Newsela 101: 4-3-2-1 Summary

Summarizing is a frequently used skill in my classroom. To practice summarizing a fiction text, my students and I often rely on the ‘Someone, Wanted, But, So, Then…’ strategy. However, there are several methods for summarizing informational text. The most often used, and successful, method for my students is the 4-3-2-1 graphic organizer. This organizer is easily adaptable and can be used with any informational text.


Students will summarize their reading using the 4-3-2-1 strategy.


4-3-2-1 is a simple strategy for kids to use to practice summarizing informational text. Though there are many variations found across the web, this is one that has had success in my classroom. After reading an article on Newsela kids will identify 4 words they felt were most important to the article, 3 things they found interesting or surprising, 2 questions they have to further their learning, and 1 opinion about what they read.

If you want students to go deeper in their thinking, they can use the annotation feature within Newsela to explain their answers. For example, they can highlight the important words in one color and add text explaining why that word is important. In another color they can highlight a section of the text which prompted their question and explain what their question is. Students can highlight the pieces they found interesting or surprising and explain in the annotation exactly why that piece of information was interesting or surprising. Finally, students could use the Write prompt to explain their opinion of the topic using specific examples from the text to support their thinking.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • The 4-3-2-1 format can be modified to fit what you want your students to get from the text. For example, maybe you don’t want to focus on vocabulary so you take that piece out and do a 3-2-1 summary or, if you want students to form 4 questions and only 2 vocabulary words, you switch those prompts. This is an easy format to tailor to your students and your classroom.

Click here to see the 4-3-2-1 summary graphic organizer I use with my students.

Newsela 101: 4-3-2-1 Summary
Tagged on:                 

2 thoughts on “Newsela 101: 4-3-2-1 Summary

  • February 11, 2019 at 2:49 am

    I’m trying the 4-3-2-1 with one of my classes this week! Thanks for the tip!

    • February 13, 2019 at 1:15 am

      Thanks Sarah!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar