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This lesson focuses on the first book in the ‘My Teacher’ series by Bruce Coville, ‘My Teacher is an Alien.’ Students will discuss the book and write their own summary of the story, using a narrative story frame.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will

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  • summarize the story, My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville
  • use a narrative story frame to support the development of a text summary
  • evaluate a written summary and provide feedback


30-45 minutes

Curriculum Standards


RL.4.2Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.

4.10By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the rangeCCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.

1.aCome to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussionCCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1.dReview the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.


  • summary
  • story frame

Materials Needed

  • My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville (individual copies for each student)
  • chart paper or whiteboard
  • blank narrative story frame handout that the teacher creates. See details below. (one per student)


  • The students should have finished reading the book, My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville, or you have read the book to them as a read-aloud before starting this lesson.
  • Students should silently read My Teacher is An Alien: Summary & Characters to remind them of the important parts of the story and the three main characters.

  • Have students complete the My Teacher is An Alien Quiz to assess their comprehension of the summary.
  • Introduce the term summary to the students. Differentiate between ‘summary’ and ‘retelling.

    ‘ Retellings include as many details and events as can be remembered, but a summary includes only the story elements and main events in the story.

  • Introduce the story frame to the students. The story frame scaffolds the students’ first efforts to write a complete but concise summary of a narrative text. As they use it, they will remember the frame and will be able to eventually write story summaries without the use of a frame.
  • Using a piece of chart paper (or whiteboard), show the students a blank story frame. Using a story that all the students will know, such as Cinderella or The Three Little Pigs, model the use of the story frame in writing a summary of the story.


  • When the students are familiar with the story frame, give each student a blank story frame handout.
  • Have the students work in pairs to complete the story frame handout for the book, My Teacher is an Alien.
  • When all student pairs are finished, put two pairs of students together and have them compare their completed story frames. They should discuss:
    • How similar are your story frames?
    • What events are in one frame but not in the other? Are those events important enough that they should be included in an overall summary?
    • Do the story frames provide a complete overall summary of the story?
  • Completed story frames can be collected and used as a formative assessment if desired.

Narrative Story Frame

Use this story frame to create a story frame worksheet to use with this lesson:The main characters of the story were _____.The setting of the story (time and place) was _____.At the beginning of the story _____.The problem of the story was _____.So, _____ did/tried _____ and _____, but _____.At the end of the story, _____.

Lesson Extensions

  • Have students read My Teacher Fried My Brains, the second book in the ‘My Teacher’ series by Bruce Coville
  • Use the narrative story frame to summarize additional stories
  • Students can also use the narrative story frame to sketch out a story as part of the pre-writing process

Related Lessons

My Teacher Flunked the Planet: Summary ; CharactersMy Teacher Fried My Brains Summary

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