Printables for the Classroom, Strategies for the Classroom

Five Fingers: A Nonfiction Summarizing Strategy

All this week I focused on classroom tools.  I have printables and activities you can use in the classroom, paired with an easy-to-use explanation so you can integrate them into your content ASAP.


I wish I could take credit for creating these tools, but I cannot.  They’re things I’ve discovered over the years, and they’re tried and true with real students just like yours.  The printables, however, all all mine.  Feel free to reproduce them for classroom use.    


Summarizing nonfiction:

If your students are anything like mine, they struggle when it comes to writing summaries of nonfiction texts.  They include random, or unimportant details, even when I ask them to stick to main ideas.  Sometimes the “summary” rambles on longer than the original text, even when I explain that summaries are short.  Something’s getting lost in translation, so to speak.  


My state standards require students to create original summaries, and they’re often tested on end of course exams by being asked to select the best summary.  I knew that my students needed something more to teach them this valuable skill.  


Here’s the tool I use in my classroom to help my students remember the components of a nonfiction summary, empowering them to write one independently.  


Enter: Five Fingers.  Get your free download of the Five Finger Summary here.  


Thumb: Topic.  What is this text or section all about?  Every sentence should mention the topic.  


Pointer finger: Main Idea.  What does the author say about the main idea?  What’s their point or purpose in writing?


Middle, Ring, and Pinky Fingers: Supporting Details (1-3).  These are the points the author makes to support his or her main idea.  What important information does the author give you to support or convince you of the main idea?


I like this tool because when a student writes a summary but doesn’t include a supporting detail, you can say: your summary is missing a pinky! Can you go back and check so you have a whole hand?  Also, it’s so easy because no graphic organizer is necessary!  Although the one I made may help them get started!  Students need nothing but a text to summarize, a writing utensil, and their other hand to complete this type of summary.  


If you find that a student is having trouble–try working backwards.  It’s relatively easy for students to begin with the pinky and work toward the thumb, identifying the details first and then working toward the main idea.  


Students can easily turn this into a five sentence summary, too, through writing a balanced, organized, and informative paragraph.  


I hope you can use my printable in your classroom!  Happy summarizing!!


If you missed it, check out Somebody/Wanted/But/So a fiction summarizing strategy I posted about earlier this week.  


Please LIKE or SHARE if you found this resource helpful!


Check out the other freebies and printables you missed this week!

Somebody/Wanted/But So: A Summarizing Strategy

Literature Circles

Speeding Ticket

Book Talks

Also check out my Pinterest Page for corresponding anchor charts and more ideas!