Take a few moments to consider the following questions:
- What is a retell?
- What is a summary?
- What are the similarities and differences between a retell and a summary?
If possible, share your ideas with a partner. How are your ideas similar? How are they different?
Examine the Summary vs. Retell Anchor Chart printable document.
We are going to review the story of Greta and the Giants as a retell and then as a summary.
Greta is a young girl who lives in a beautiful forest that is threatened by greedy Giants. The Giants have been chopping down trees to build their cities and polluting the forest with smoke from their cars, and factories. The animals approach Greta and ask her to help them protect their home. Everyone is afraid of the Giants, but Greta is not afraid of them. She has an idea.
She creates a sign that says “STOP” and she stands in the middle of the forest to wait for the Giants. At first, they do not see her, but after a few days many other people who feel the same way that Greta and the animals do, stand together with Greta with their own signs asking the Giants to stop destroying the forest and listen to what they have to say. The Giants notice the crowd, and finally, Greta speaks to them. She tells them they need to stop what they are doing because the animals have no place to go and their beautiful, shared forest is shrinking. The other people in the crowd also speak aloud and share their thoughts with the Giants. The Giants feel bad and apologize. They tell Greta and her friends they promise to do better, and they do.
The Giants stop chopping down trees, learn how to create a garden, and start helping to save the forest. At the end of the story, the Giants help to restore a lot of the forest and everyone can enjoy the forest together.
Greta is a young girl who lives in a beautiful forest that is being destroyed by the Giants. She speaks with the animals and decides to take a stand against the Giants. She creates a sign that says STOP and quietly she stands in the middle of the forest where the Giants can see her. After a few days, she is joined by many other people who want to help save the forest and restore the animal’s homes. The Giants finally pay attention, and Greta and her supporters have a conversation with the Giants to help them understand how they destroy the forest when they cut down the trees and pollute the air. These actions affect the animals who live in the forest. The Giants listen and understand the harm they have caused and try to do better. The Giants work together to help restore the forest.
Consider the differences and similarities between a retell and a summary. Compare and contrast these two different methods of demonstrating your understanding of a story. You can select a suitable method to document your thinking, such as a Venn diagram, a t-chart, an online app, chart paper, a mind map, or another method of your choice.
Complete the Summary vs. Retell in your notebook or using the following fillable and printable document.
Press the ‘Activity’ button to access Summary vs. Retell.
If possible, share your comparison with a partner.
Note to teachers: See your teacher guide for collaboration tools, ideas and suggestions.
Somebody Wanted But So Then
In the Action section, you probably noticed that a retell gives lots of details from a story. This is because a retell includes all the details from the beginning, middle, and end of a story. A summary is different. It is a shortened account of something that includes the main points, but not all the details.
One way to summarize a story is to use a strategy called: Somebody Wanted But So Then (SWBST). SWBST focuses on the main character, the problem, and the solution.
Let’s practice using the SWBST strategy! Select a text of your choice. After you are finished reading, use the SWBST template below or another method of your choice to identify the following elements:
Somebody: Decide who the somebody is. Is a character, person, or group of people?
Wanted: What does that character/person want? What are the events in the plot? What is the main idea?
But: But what happened? What is the conflict or challenge the character/person faces?
So: How did the character/person try to solve the problem?
Then: What was the resolution or outcome?
Who is the main character?
What did the character want?
What is the problem?
How does the character try to solve the problem?
What is the resolution?
After the story
Next, use the SWBST elements that you identified to create your summary. Again, record your summary using a method of our choice. You can use type, write, or record an audio or video clip.
Complete the Somebody Wanted But So Then - Summary in your notebook or using the following fillable and printable document.
Press the ‘Activity’ button to access Somebody Wanted But So Then - Summary.
Bringing it all together
Use the following questions to reflect on your learning.
- How does a retell and summary contribute to our understanding of a text?
- What's the difference between a retell and a summary? Describe when you might use one over the other.
As you read through these descriptions, which sentence best describes how you are feeling about your understanding of this learning activity? Press the button that is beside this sentence.
Now, record your ideas using a voice recorder, speech-to-text, or writing tool.