Meghan Ciampi



The goal of teaching reading is to increase students’ comprehension. Teaching the strategies of summarization will aid in this process. In this lesson students will learn to identify important and less important details of the text while completing a fishbone map.


Highlighters for each student in case they need to mark important sentences or phrases in the text.

Copies of the article Gorillas in Crisis by Kathleen Donovan-Snavely

Pencils for each student


1.Today we are going to read a text and learn how to create a summary of what we have read by using a fishbone map. A fishbone map is similar to writing a summary. When you create a fishbone map you find the meaningful and important parts of what you read and you put them on the map. After creating a fishbone map, you can use the map to help you write a summary of the text in your own words.

2. We are going to read the article Gorillas in Crisis. In pairs, you are going to first read the article silently. You are then going to complete a fishbone map. After completing your fishbone map you will compose a summary of the article in your own words.

3. Before you get started lets review strategies that are helpful to use when summarizing. Can anybody remember the first helpful strategy when summarizing? Yes, that’s right, get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information. Next we pick out the most important items or events. And then we write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.

Remember these strategies can be used to help compose summaries as well as helping us complete a fishbone map. Each part of the fishbone map is actually a mini summary of each paragraph.

4. Now we are going to do read the first paragraph together and fill out the fishbone maps for the first paragraph. Listen to how I think aloud as we read this first paragraph.  I will than model how I go through all the strategies. I will have an overhead projector and I will have the students help me create the first paragraph of the fishbone map.

5. Now that we have completed the first paragraph together and we have practiced summarizing, it is your turn to practice summarizing on your own. I want you to work with your partner and fill out the rest of your fishbone map. After you finish with the fishbone map, I want each student to compose a summary in your own words.

6.As you are silently reading this article use your three summarizing rules to help you comprehend the text. You can also use your highlighter to highlight important information and a pencil to cross out unnecessary information.

7. For Assessment I will collect both the fishbone maps and the summaries the students did for the article and check the students ability to summarize by the checklist below.

*Are important ideas and events included in the summary?
*Do they state the author’s main idea and supporting details?

*Is redundant information left out of the summary?


Scaling Back to Essentials: Scaffolding Summarization With Fishbone Mapping, READ-WRITE-THINK,


Gorillas in Crisis by Kathleen Donovan-Snavely, 2004.


Fishbone Map Template

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