At this time of year, keeping students focused and engaged is well... hard! One skill that we practice all year in fifth grade is summarizing. Students work hard on putting summaries in their own words while still being able to restate the main ideas and details. For nonfiction, the best summary method I have found is the Index Card Summary!
The formula is simple... and stress free!
Students write the topic or main idea in the center of their card. This can be a sentence or a single word. Then they write important words in the four corners. They can use the resource for the front of their note card. Then they close the book and flip over the note card. Using their key words they need to summarize in their own words! Here's our index card summaries... We practiced using our History textbook reading for the day!