Lesson: Using headings to find main idea in NF

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Lesson Objective

Students will find the main idea of each section in a non-fiction text.

Lesson Plan


Connection (3-5 mins): Yesterday, we found the main idea of a fiction text.  Today we will switch gears and focus on non-fiction texts.  Often non-fiction texts are already chunked for us with headings.  This should help us find the main idea and break down our thinking into smaller pieces. 


Teach (10-12 mins): Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Readers, we read non-fiction texts to learn about a specific topic.  Often this means the main idea is already given to us because we are learning about a topic.  But sometimes it is difficult to separate all the interesting facts that we learn in text from the main purpose or idea of the text.  Today, we will use headings to help us frame our thinking and find the main idea of an informational article. 


Teacher places the article, “ Start Your Engines: All About Motor Racing”.  Today as we read we will stop after each heading to find the main idea and relate what we read back to the heading.  For example, the first heading is wave the green flag.  As we read we will be thinking about what that heading means about the main idea of this section. 


Teacher reads aloud the first section.  I’m thinking this section had a lot of interesting details and introduced me to the idea of racing.  I know that a green flag is normally waved when a race starts and this article is discussing motor racing.  The next step is to think about what I learned or what this section was trying to teach me.  I think this section was mostly about all the different types of motor racing there are as sports.  It was more of introduction paragraph.


Let’s look at another section.  Teacher reads aloud Stock Car Racing.  Wow! We learned a lot about stock cars in that section.  I think the main idea of that section is that stock car racing is one type of motor racing.  Did you notice how I related what I learned back to the title of the article about motor racing.  Again, this section has many interesting facts and I want to stay away from finding one interesting fact to make the main idea but instead focus on the big idea.  I think you are ready to try.


Teacher reads aloud Formula One Racing section.  Now it’s your turn.  Turn and tell your partner what you think this section was mostly about.  Students turn and talk and teacher listens in to conversations.  Teacher has students share out and charts their responses. 


Great job readers.  When you return to your seats today you will finish reading this article.  As you read stop after each heading to write the main idea.  I will give each of you a paper to write on to help you organize your thoughts.  Off you go.


Active Engagement (15-20 mins): Students should return to their seats to work independently.  Teacher is expected to pull groups of students to re-teach or to conference with students one-on-one.


Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins): Teacher collects exit slip to assess student learning.  Those students who do not master the skill should have independent conferences on the following day. Students may also share out their answers and discuss what they determined to be the main idea of each section.


Reflection: It is much easier for students to rely on headings to find the main idea of a non-fiction text.  Most students easily mastered this skill and I did not re-teach the following day.  I suggest exposing students to many different articles with headings at multiple levels to ensure each student is able to access the assigned text.

Lesson Resources

Motor Racing Article.pdf  
Worksheet for Motor Racing.doc  


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