Strategic Reading and Writing: Summarizing Antislavery Biographies

Summarization is an essential comprehension skill to determine the importance of information when reading. In this lesson, students practice writing effective summaries using biographies. Students read selections from Enemies of Slavery by David Adler. They read about a specific person and then join a group of students who read about other people to learn about additional biographies. Afterwards, students use the Bio-Cube tool to record information about their assigned person and then display these cubes in an Enemies of Slavery mobile. Students research biographies, summarize findings, and record gathered information.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0401.4.1
Conduct research to access and present information.
GLE 0501.4.1
Conduct research to access and present information.
GLE 0601.4.1
Define and narrow a problem or research topic.
GLE 0701.4.1
Define and narrow a problem or research topic.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • Identify why summarizing is an important skill for comprehension through whole-class and small-group discussions
  • Identify characteristics of an effective summary by analyzing a summarizing graphic organizer and discussing its attributes
  • Improve their reading comprehension by constructing summaries of researched information on an assigned antislavery activist
  • Analyze what they have learned by participating in jigsaw groups, in which they present their summaries and record information gathered by their peers
  • Apply summarization skills by displaying their research using the Bio-Cube tool
  • Apply metacognitive strategies by reflecting about how summarizing helps readers make meaning

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • The Bio-Cube can be used as the basis for a written summary. Students can transfer each side of the cube into paragraph form.
  • Teach another content area lesson using the Bio-Cube tool, such as “Great American Inventors: Using Nonfiction to Learn About Technology Inventions.”

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Enemies of Slavery by David Adler (Holiday House, 2004)
  • Any book from the Civil War Booklist (optional)
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Chart paper
  • Color markers or highlighters
  • Heavy paper or card stock (optional)
  • Overhead projector (optional)