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Lesson Plan

Strategic Reading and Writing: Summarizing Antislavery Biographies

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Strategic Reading and Writing: Summarizing Antislavery Biographies

Grades 3 – 7
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 60- to 90-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sarah Dennis-Shaw

Avon, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



Summarization is an essential comprehension skill to determine the importance of information when reading. In this lesson, students practice writing effective summaries using biographies. Students read selections from Enemies of Slavery by David Adler. They read about a specific person and then join a group of students who read about other people to learn about other biographies. Afterwards, students use the Bio-Cube tool to record information about their assigned person and then display them in an Enemies of Slavery mobile.

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  • Bio-Cube tool: This feature allows students to create a visual representation of biographical information about the person of their choice.
  • Bio-Cube Planning Sheet: With this handout, students can gather all of the information they need to complete the Bio-Cube tool.

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McLaughlin, M., & Allen, M.B. (2009). Guided comprehension in grades 3-8 . Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • McLaughlin states, "Good readers are strategic and take active roles in the reading process." It is essential that students are explicitly taught the strategies they need to become active, effective readers. These strategies should be modeled and practiced on a regular basis.

  • Summarizing in one of the essential comprehension skills for students to develop. Students should discuss and analyze what makes an effective summary, why summarizing is important for strategic readers, and how summarizing helps readers make meaning.

  • The use of graphic organizers and other tools provides students with a structure and overall understanding of what an effective summary looks like and how to file only the "essential" information.


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