Summarizing to the Next Level...Somebody Wanted But So
I'm going to venture to say that as educators most of us have either used SWBS or seen it used with students. In this post, I hope to show you how it can be leveled up a few notches. And rather than spread thin, we can help our kids dig deep into summarizing using this strategy which can be pretty powerful if used with fidelity.
Here's what I USE TO do with my students:
I might read a book to the class (like a read aloud). Let's use a book most of us know for the example, Cinderella. So I would show the students the graphic organizer/chart (see typical examples of organizers/charts below).
And I would model how to find the Somebody: Cinderella
What she wanted: to go the the ball
But: she had a lot of chores and no gown
So: a Fairy Godmother magically gives her a gown and she goes to the ball
I have even seen teachers share with students how to add a Then and Finally in an effort to extend the summary.
Here's where I started to shift my thinking about SWBS. I know that summazing is a critical skill for my students. It involves deep thinking and I need them to know how to summarize. But I wanted them to go deeper into the summary. This felt so surface level.
One day I saw Meredith Alvaro, National Literacy Consultant and expert in ELLs and Special Education students, share how she teachs SWBS and it changed everything for me. Instead of one word or even phrases for each piece of the puzzle, the SWBS became a paragraph! Here's how:
Somebody: Cinderella was a young, beautiful girl who lived with her Stepmother and Stepsisters.
Wanted: When and invitation to the Ball arrived, she wanted very badly to go with her Stepfamily.
But: However, she had so much housework to do and she didn't own an evening gown.
So: Magically, a Fairy Godmother appeared and granted her wishes to go to the ball in a beautiful gown.
Then put them all together in paragraph form starting with an indent like so:
Cinderella was a young, beautiful girl who lived with her Stepmother and Stepsisters. When and invitation to the Ball arrived, she wanted very badly to go with her Stepfamily. However, she had so much housework to do and she didn't own an evening gown. Magically, a Fairy Godmother appeared and granted her wishes to go to the ball in a beautiful gown.
I have tried out this type of SWBS in several classrooms and found a few tips.
One. Use different colors for each sentences when modeling. The color chunking helps students differentiate between parts.
Two. Don't wait until the end of the story or book to begin summarizing. Teach students to summarize while they read. This is what readers should do. We don't want to wait until the end of the book to realize that we didn't understand what we were reading!
Three. Use pictures to model SWBS especially with Newcomer/Beginner English Learners. All kids can benefit from using pictures to learn how to effectively summarize but beginner English Learners need the comprehensible input that visuals offer. I will demonstrate this below.
Four. Use nonfiction! Social studies offers an excellent venue for SWBS. SWBS is not just for fiction. Basically anything that has a story line can be summarized. Teach students to use SWBS.
Using Pictures with SWBS
I would begin by discussing the picture and labeling it in a Picture Talk. What do we see? Label all nouns in one color. What actions are taking place? Label all verbs in a different color.
Somebody: The colonists were brave men willing to fight for their new country.
Wanted: They didn't want to pay taxes on tea and other goods from England.
But: However the British were taxing them on goods.
So: The colonists revolted in anger and threw all the tea off the boat in an act called the Boston Tea Party.
Using Nonfiction with SWBS
Obviously, the picture of the Boston Tea Party is nonfiction. So it combines both pictures and nonfiction. But for Advanced and Advanced High students, pictures are not always needed. You might have a text only nonfiction piece that you would like for them to summarize. A good example might be a text on a famous figure in history, such as Ceasar Chavez.
Ceasar Chavez was a farmerworker and civil rights activist. He wanted better wages and work conditions for farm workers. However not everyone agreed with Ceasar's point of view.
So he organized strikes, boycotts and marches to bring atttention to his cause. Finally, his dedication paid off and the first Bill of Rights for agricultural workers was enacted.
Your nonfiction text does not have to be regarding a person, it could be a country and what they wanted. It could be a group of people. It could be an animal. I have even done SWBS with pictures of living and nonliving things.
After putting the students in cooperative groups and giving them sets of pictures (living and nonliving things), they pick one each and must orally tell one another in SWBS form why the thing is living or nonliving.
The bird is a living thing. It needs food, water, and air to survive. Without the basic needs of food water, and air, the bird would die. So the bird must eat worms and find water and breathe air. It is a living thing.
As with any strategy, tons of modeling and gradual release of responsibilty is key to success. When I model and guide students using
I do, we do, you do
they success rate is much greater.
What I love about SWBS is that it's not just for one grade level and it's not just for one content area. It's for life.
7 Steps to a Language Rich Interactive Classroom, J. Seidlitz
When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do, K. Beers
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TEXAS teachers!! Have you heard about Texas Gateway???
This is an AMAZING, FREE resource library for all Texas educators and parents created by the Texas Education Agency. The courses offered are self-paced, online courses. Some even include videos and classroom support documents. As an advocate for English Learners, I truly love that the Texas Gateway offers several courses related to supporting teachers and administrators of ELs. Teachers can take the courses and receive professional development credit for them too! But BEST of all, teachers and administrators will gain valuable knowledge about how to effectively support English Learners in their classrooms and schools utilizing the English Language Proficiency Standards aligned with the TEKS.
The courses offered include:
The ELPS Linguistic Instructional Alignment Guide or LIAG is aresource also available to educators. It is not a course but a resource that is handy for planning instruction. As a classroom teacher, the LIAG can a used to tailor listening, speaking, reading, and writing goals and instruction for each English Learner in your classroom.
Sheltered Instruction videos are coming soon! So be on the look out! And share this awesome resource with your colleagues.
Just wondering...for those of you who don't live in the GREAT state of Texas, does your state/country have something like this for teachers? Please comment.
Have you ever walked into a classroom and heard a teacher say, "I love how quiet you all are. Keep it up."? Quiet classrooms are dangerous for English language learners and most other students as well. Talk is key to learning. If the goal is to lift the level of language, how can we do that in a quiet classroom?
A lot of research has been done on the amount of talk that takes place in an average classroom. Research has found that ELLs spend less than 2% of their school day improving their academic language! Unfortunately, the one doing the most talking is usually the teacher. And as we know...the one talking is the one learning. When we talk, we process, we negotiate, we internalize. Teachers are doing a lot of the work and students are zoning out.
To shift this workload and learning, students need to do the talking. As teachers, we should give students engaging topics and esssential questions to discuss and turn it over to them. There are many ways to achieve a room full of students who are talking about the work. But I think as teachers, our biggest fear is that they won't talk about the work...they will get off topic or they won't talk at all. A secondary fear is that there is so much curriculum to cover that if we let them talk, it won't get covered. Here are 3 ways to ensure that your classroom talk is effective.
ONE. Be explicit in the talk structure and routine. Teach your students HOW to hold the talk conversation so that it is accountable. Students of all ages need to hear the teacher say that partners need to sit facing one another. They need to know that one person talks while the other(s) listen(s) and nod(s). They will need to see how the partners pass the conversation to one another. For example, when I'm finished talking, how do I let my partner know it's his/her turn? I might say, "What do you think?" In this day in age, kids are intrenched in technology, social media, and this lack of face to face communication leads us to the need for excplict instruction about conversation. Modeling what you expect is important. Model, model, model. Show your students what the conversation will look like and what it should not look like.
TWO. The question or topic you pick is key to the success of the conversation. If your district utilizes unit plans, they will include essential questions and enduring understandings. Those are excellent for selecting what you want your students to discuss. Just be sure that you have already exposed your students to the information. They can't talk about questions that they haven't studied yet. If your district does not use unit plans, you can look at the TEKS or state standards that your lesson is addressing. Take the standard and turn it into a question. Don't change the vocabulary in the question to make it "easier" for them to understand. Instead, teach them the vocabulary using visuals and synonyms if you need to. Once you have a question in mind, post it visually for your students. Otherwise, once you ask kids to discuss with their partner, you'll hear, "What are we supposed to talk about?" and then they will get off topic. Posting the question ensures that two modalities have been addressed: verbal/oral and visual. Those kids that need to hear it, heard it. Those kids that need to see it and read it, can!
THREE. Give them sentence stems or starters to propel their thoughts. ELLs are cognitively capable of answering questions and thinking deeply. They lack the English language. Sentence stems provide a scaffold and support for the structure of the sentence. Remember when you were first learning to ride a bike? Someone ran behind you holding the seat and keeping you balanced. Then when you were ready, they let go. That's what stems are like. Just like when learning to ride a bike, we all need a different amount of support. With beginner and intermediate ELLs, stems will be more basic. They also benefit from a word bank or visual/picture. Advanced and advanced high ELLs still need stems too. Their stems can be longer and push them to explain more.
If you are looking for more to read about talk, here are a few excellent resources:
A workshop setting is very conducive to differentiation. But how are we ensuring that our ELLs are not being forgotten? How are we making sure that the workshop setting is meeting the needs of our ELLs and pushing them forward in language AND literacy?
First and foremost, as teachers we have to remember that when we work with students who are learning English as a second language, we are not only teaching them to read and write, we are simultaneously teaching them the English language, language proficiency. It is important to keep a pulse of the students' levels in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English.
Being aware that some students come from countries where letters and symbols are different from ours is important too. Teaching ELLs how to decode letters will help empower them to read. Being explicit about letter sounds, capitals and lower case letter, and punctuation can be taught in small groups or during individual reading conferences with ELLs. Nevertheless, these are important lessons that our ELLs might have misssed depending on when they came to the US.
Often we ask our students to "sound it out...does it sound like it makes sense or sound correct?" Well, for an English language learner that type of question is difficult to answer. Some haven't heard enough examples of the English language to know if it sounds correct. For many, the classroom is the only place where they experience the English language. With ELLs, explicit instruction and modeling goes a long way.
If we want our students be excel in academics, we have to help them excel in language at the same time. Our ELLs need multiple opportunities to listen, speak, read and write during the day and this includes the workshop time. Recently while at an assessment training, the presenter discussed accommodations. I loved how she phrased it. She said that accommodations do not give ELLs an advantage. Accommodations level the playing field. I look at it this way...if a little girl can't reach the water fountain, what would we do? Would we let the child go without water until she grows tall enough to reach it herself even though she needs the water? Would we go get the maintaince crew to LOWER the fountain? NO! Of course not! The child deserves and needs the water and we will not lower the standards for her to reach it. We will give her a scaffold and little by little pull it back. The scaffold might be a stepping stool or some other type of device to allow her equal access to the water. She will get the same water that everyone else gets. Level the playing field.
See the document below for ideas on how to level the playing field for ELLs during workshop. Feel free to email me or reach out to me on Twitter and I will send you more information on this document.