Five Big W’s
By: Lori Hunter

 letter w

Rationale: One of the main goals for reading is comprehension. In order for children to comprehend what they read they must learn helpful comprehension strategies. Summarization is an effective comprehension strategy which helps students remember key points when reading text. This lesson is designed to help students develop summarization strategies by asking themselves questions as they read. Developing these strategies will help them develop better comprehension and learn while reading text.



·        Overhead projector (or chalk and board)

·        Copy of the five W’s chart (who, what, when

·        Pencils



  1. Ask students “Can anyone tell me why reading is important?” Give the children time to come up with answers. Then explain to the children that is reading is needed for communication so we can read and understand each other. We can learn about people around the world and also learn about different things that people like to do and what they are interested in. In order to understand what they are talking about so we can remember it we must learn how to comprehend. “Does anyone one know what comprehending means?” Give time for children to answer.
  2. There are several comprehension strategies. Summarization is the one we are going to concentrate on the today.  Summarization is picking out key points in the story to remember. (Write that on the overhead or board). There are 5 questions that you should always ask yourself when reading to help you summarize the story. The five questions all start with the letter W. They are Who, What, When, Where and Why. While reading a story you would want to ask Who are the characters of the story, What happened in the story, When did the story take place (year, day, night) Where did the story take place? (house, farm, store, school, etc…) and why did that happen? Tell the children that not every question might be answered in every story that they read.
  3. On the board or over head projector make up some practice sentences. This will help children learn how to answer the five W’s. Some questions might be:
    1. Sally went to the store to get some milk for her mom.

Where did sally go? (The Store)

Who went to the store? (Sally)

Why did Sally go? ( To get some milk)

    1. John went to the baseball game with his dad. They ate popcorn and hot dogs.

Where did John and his dad go? (baseball game)

What did they do there? (Ate hotdogs and popcorn0

*The class could then come up with some more questions.

4. Give the students a short paragraph on the board or overhead projector. Tell them to go back to their seats quietly and read the paragraph and answer the questions.


Jake is a fifth grader at Dean Road Elementary school. He likes to read, write and do math. He likes to go home after school and walk the dog and finish his homework. Sometimes on the weekends he goes to Auburn Football games with his dad. They like to cheer, eat hotdogs, and drink coke. Jake likes to wear orange and blue. He looks forward to going to the Auburn Game this weekend against Georgia.

5. Have the students come up and fill in the 5 w’s that you had written on the board

On the board have

    1. Where
    2. Who
    3. What
    4. When
    5. Why

*Tell the children remember that all 5 w’s might not be answered.

6. Make sure students understood. If they seem to be struggling go through the story and show them and then make up another paragraph or read a book and do the same lesson.

Assessment: assess the students on how well they answered the questions on the board that you had up.



·         Digging  through the mess to find the treasure” by Catherine Moore courtesy of the Reading Genie website: