Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Main Idea Paragraphs (Lesson 19)

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Lesson Objective

Paragraphs have purposes. Their purpose should be clear from their main idea. In non-fiction, there is always a paragraph that introduces the main idea of the entire article.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 19:

Standard: Identify the purpose of common textual features (for example, title, headings, key words, paragraphs, topic sentences, table of contents, indices, glossary,  captions accompanying illustrations or photographs).

Identify topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration in paragraphs. 

Determine the purpose of individual sentences and paragraphs and how they contribute to the text as a whole. 

Big Idea:  Writers use lots of evidence to support the main idea.  These supporting details fill the text; they are found in every paragraph, all textual features, and all graphic features. 


Teaching Point: Paragraphs have purposes. In NF, there is always a paragraph that introduces the main idea of the entire article.


RW: Reading binders, pencils, class copies of “Exploding Ants,” pages 16-19

RA: Reader binders, copy of Exploding Ants, small post-its


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Readers, we’ve been learning about the purpose of paragraphs. We know that good authors organize each paragraph around one thing, one purpose, and that good readers have to understand what that purpose is. Sometimes a paragraph is meant to hook the reader, and other times it is meant to teach us the main idea of a section or article.
  • We are going to continue writing open responses about “Exploding Ants.” You are going to get your own copy of the section of “Exploding Ants” that we read yesterday so that you can highlight it for evidence that will answer this question. [Put up OR question.]
  • How many parts does this question have? (1)
  • Where am I going to find my evidence? [Notice that the evidence will come from only one of the sections.] Re-read and highlight evidence.
  • Come up with a topic sentence as a whole class. Write OR as a whole group, in small groups, or independently.


Read Aloud Lesson:


  • Readers, we have been learning that in all texts we read, every paragraph has a purpose, and good readers always know what the purpose of each paragraph is. Today, we are going to continue looking at the text structure and the purpose of the paragraphs in “Exploding Ants.”
  •  [Start reading “Dog Mucus and Other Tasty Treats.” Make predictions based on headings and pictures before starting each section. T&T to discuss the purpose of hook and main idea paragraphs, and mark them with post-it notes.]
  • Stop reading at the end of page 23. We will read “Sucking Blood” next time.]


Lesson Resources

Lesson 19 Open Response.docx  


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