Mae Jemison: Using Complex text with topic, main ideas & supporting details

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SWBAT analyze complex text to identify topic, main ideas and supporting details

Big Idea

Analyzing a text with multiple MAIN IDEAS is tough - Let's (try to) make it easier!


This is the second week I'm targeting RI 2: topic, main ideas and supporting details.  Originally, I intended to spend 1 week on this skill.  However, last week, I quickly discovered that my scholars had a super tough time with this skill.  After reflecting a bit, I realized that it was because scholars had only ever practiced identifying the main idea of a paragraph or a text with a single main idea.  Also, the very definition of main idea was singular in nature as is evidenced by this resource.

Therefore, when we applied the skill of analyzing topic, main ideas and supporting detail to complex text (i.e. a text with multiple main ideas with no headings to explicitly tell scholars what the main ideas are), we fell flat on our face! Therefore, we need more practice.  And support.  So here it goes :)

Disclaimer: the resource image for this section is a NON-example.  It is meant to illustrate where our scholars have been with reading instruction around topic, main ideas and supporting details so that we can better support them to attain the higher level of analysis required by the Common Core State Standards, and let's be honest, life.  

Cue Set

10 minutes

Show scholars the image of Walmart.  Ask scholars, "what is the topic of this picture?  Main ideas?  Supporting details?"  I ask scholars to identify these concepts in a concrete picture so that they can associate a concrete image with the abstract concept of topic, main ideas and supporting details. Emphasize that there are MANY main ideas in a store like Walmart. 

Give scholars 2 minutes to jot down thinking.  I only give them 2 minutes because I like to keep a very quick pace in my classroom, this leads to more productive and engaged learning. 

Some scholars may need more support, so as scholars are jotting down ideas, think aloud.  I say, "Hmm, the topic is how all of the things in the picture are related.  Well, I can tell just by looking at this picture that it is Walmart.  The topic is Walmart.  Main ideas are the sections into which the topic is organized.  How is a Walmart organized?  Hmm, when I walk into Walmart, I notice big signs that label each section.  One sign says Entertainment.  That must be a main idea because it tells me how 1 part of the store is organized.  Let's think about the supporting details as they relate to that main idea.  If I go back to the entertainment section, I see an X-Box 360. That is a specific item that Walmart sells in the entertainment section.  It is a specific fact that tells me more about the entertainment section at Walmart.  Therefore, it is a supporting detail." If you have struggling learners, prepare pictures of the various sections of Walmart and be prepared to show those to scaffold thinking here.  

You don't have to do the entire think aloud if scholars' begin to jot down ideas.  The thinking here is that you start to get their juices flowing by thinking aloud. 

At the end of 2 minutes, give them 30 seconds to share with a friend.  Then, I grab 2 friends from my cup and get 1 volunteer to share thoughts.

I have scholars share so that they have the opportunity to rehearse a response before being put on-the-spot in front of the whole class.  Also, it helps struggling learners to hear a correct response from a partner, then if they are called upon they can repeat.  Also, I circulate during this time to interview scholars and partnerships who I know need support.  I pull 2 friends from my cup to keep kids on their toes and to ensure that I don't continually call on the same scholars.  I pick 2 volunteers so that enthusiasm to share does not wane due to calling from the cup. 

We then create a web with topic in the middle, one spider leg for each main idea, and three lines coming of the spider leg for supporting details.  We record what we discussed so that the visual reminder can help ground us in the concept as we move to apply this with complex text.

Teaching Strategy

10 minutes

I say, "We learned about topic, main ideas and supporting details last week, right? So, what's the big deal?  Why are we continuing to learn how to analyze text by using topic, main ideas and supporting details?"  I explain that strong readers understand the way in which the author organized the text so that they can do a better job of summarizing the text, to recommend it to others, to comprehend it more, or to record what they learned.  We all agree that when we visit Walmart, we are MUCH faster and productive shoppers if we use the sections (main ideas) to purchase specific items (supporting details).  The same is true for us as readers.  

I explain that we had a bit of a tough time last week (I am always honest with my kids, this helps to build a strong rapport and a relationship built on trust).  I explain that this week I'm going to teach them how to find main ideas and supporting details in a text even if the author chooses not to use headings.  (I will ham this up a bit to make it more exciting). 

We do a cloze reading of pages 208-209.  I model how to identify the topic - "What is the title?  How are all of the ideas and facts on this page related"  Then, I model how to identify the main ideas.  "What is the author telling me in the first paragraph of the first section?  The second paragraph?  How are those two ideas related?  That must be the main idea for the first section!"  Finally, I model how to find the supporting details.  "What are the specific examples, or facts that tell me more about the main idea for the first section? These are my supporting details!" I record these on the graphic organizer

Text selection is crucial here.  You want something that has multiple main ideas, but that has more than one paragraph that is aligned to each main idea.  The text should not be super long because you are modeling.  Read Works has some great non-fiction passages that you can use if your school system does not have a textbook or other resources to use. You can sign-up for free :)

*HINT: Since this is the second time I target this skill (main ideas and supporting details) the magic of the lesson lies in the guided practice.  You want to keep the teaching strategy no longer than 10 minutes so that scholars really have an opportunity to practice on their own.  

Guided Practice

30 minutes

I tell scholars that one strategy we learned last week for finding the main ideas within complex text was using post-it notes to record what the author was telling us on each page of a given section (you can modify this to record 1 post-it per paragraph depending on the text).  The reason this was so helpful is because we were able to go back to our post-it at the end of reading and we remembered what the author said without having to re-read.  This helps scholars to synthesize. 

We do a cloze reading of pages 211-215.  When we do a cloze reading, I read out loud with the text projected on the SMART board via visualizer, and scholars follow along with the text at their desks.  I pause every few sentences and they read the word out loud.  This enhances engagement and provides all scholars with access to complex text that may not be on their instructional level. 

After reading the entire section, we go back and re-read the first sentence of each paragraph on page 211.  We ask ourselves, "What is the author telling us here?  How are these ideas related?"  Then, we record that on a sticky note.  I model this explicitly for page 211.  Scholars work with a partner to do the same for pages 212, 213, 214 and 215. 

I give scholars 2 minutes for each page, and then we pause to discuss each page for about 1 minute to ensure that scholars are engaged and using time productively.  During this partner practice time, I circulate and support partnerships by asking that question, "What does each paragraph tell you?  How are those ideas related to one another?"

Finally, we ask ourselves the question, "How are all of the sticky notes related?  What idea does the author communicate that unifies all of the sticky notes?"  Scholars Think-Pair-Share to give them an opportunity to hear partner's thinking and rehearse before sharing with the whole group.  I pull 2 friends from my cup and 1 volunteer.  As scholars share, I do not say, "YES! Right answer!"  Instead, I always respond by saying, "Let's test that theory."  We then go back and ask ourselves, "Does the first sticky note relate to that idea?  Second sticky note?  Third?" 

Lastly, we record the main idea for pages 211-215 on our graphic organizer.  I model how to find 1 supporting detail that shares specific information or a fact related to the main idea for that section. 

Independent Practice

45 minutes

During this time scholars rotate through 3 stations.  In general, scholars look forward to this time because they are a bit more independent, they are able to get up and move around the room and because my ELL co-teacher is in the classroom and they interact with a new face :) 

I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day.  This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making  them more productive.  Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies).  Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation.  The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.

During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective is to identify topic, main ideas and supporting details with books that are on each group's highest instructional level.  Scholars read a portion of the same text (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group).  Then we discuss the topic, main ideas and supporting details.  I use different graphic organizers depending on the needs of the group.  Some students have an easier time when they pull out supporting details first and then ask themselves, "How are these details related?"  So, with these students I use a graphic organizer that lists supporting details first.  For other students, they can read the section and immediately know the main idea.  Therefore, I use a graphic organizer that lists the main idea first and supporting details second. 

After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention.  Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening.  Then they point to where they go next.  I give them 20 seconds to get there.  Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition.  We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room.  This way we avoid any collisions.    

We always have 2 rotations each day.  At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson.  Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.