Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Summarize Main Idea (Lesson 26)

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Lesson Objective

Paragraphs have purposes. Some paragraphs are meant to summarize the main idea or point of the text.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 26:

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 or theme.  These supporting details fill the text; they are found in every paragraph, all textual features, and all graphic features. 


Teaching Point: Paragraphs have purposes. Some paragraphs are meant to summarize the main idea or point of the text.


Reading Workshop: Reading binders, pencils, copies of Crashing Into History, Life of the Loggerhead, Boys and Girls in the Primate World, post-its

Read Aloud: copy of Hermit Crabs and Shorebirds, small post-its



Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Tell your partner what the five paragraph purposes that we’ve learned are. Today, I am going to teach you that the purpose of some paragraphs is to summarize the main idea or the point of a text. As writers, we know that it is important to remind our readers about our point throughout our stories. We even write a reflection at the end to repeat our topic and point. Authors do the same thing. They add a paragraph or two at the end of their texts to summarize, or repeat, the main idea of the article in non-fiction or the point of the story in fiction. We’re going to read some of our favorite stories and notice when the author uses a summarizing paragraph.
  • Open your binder to your “Non-fiction” tab.  Let’s start with “Crashing Into History” [read the last paragraph] – what does this paragraph tell us? [That Cal Rodgers is a famous pioneer pilot even though he struggled – that’s the main idea!] Do the same thing with Life of the Loggerhead and Boys and Girls in the Primate World.
  • Readers, it is important to think about the purpose of each paragraph because if you don’t know why an author included a paragraph, then you’ll be confused about the text overall.  Today and every day, you should notice when the purpose of a paragraph is to hook the reader, teach you the main idea, explain a sequence of events, describe one thing, give background information about a person or idea in the text, or summarize the main idea or point of the text. If you find a paragraph that has one of these purposes, you may mark that with a post-it.


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 purpose of the paragraphs in Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web.
  • [Start reading at “A full moon…”]
    • “A full moon…” – sequence/descriptive
    • “Quickly the males crowd…” – sequence
    • Next two paragraphs – sequence
    • “Hundreds of thousands…” – descriptive
    • Lots of sequence and descriptive….

Stop after “Gangs of gulls roam the beach and bully the other shorebirds into giving way”

Lesson Resources

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