So, my students know that main idea is what the selection is mostly about. They can say the definition readily. It's the capturing of the main idea that is problematic for them. They want to use one word instead of a complete thought that truly captures the essence of the text. In years past, students have become frustrated (and so have I!) so I decided to break main idea down into baby steps.
Knowing this, I decided that if I build a bridge from pictures to text to help them understand main idea, the frustration level might be minimized. Getting bogged down in the text for my students causes shut down right away so if I build confidence with pictures, then they have something to go on when we get to text. When my students can capture the entire idea of a picture in a sentence and give the three details from the picture that helped them arrive at that sentence, then I know I can move on.
That's where this lesson begins- with newspapers at each table and my students excited about the possibilities to come. We begin with a quick review of main idea from yesterday. I give them an analogy- main idea is like telling your mom what you read today in one sentence and when she asks you, "What about it?", it's the three things you tell her to go along with it.
After the review, I show the students the foldable we're going to make today. They are very excited as it is super cool and they just love foldables!!
A note here: the frames will have to be trimmed to fit into the notebook.
We begin the foldable and after trimming and gluing, everyone has a frame in their notebook!!
Once everyone has a frame, I ask the students, what do we put in a frame and they all call out, "A picture!" That's where the newspapers come in. I tell the students that we're going to use pictures to help us begin to understand main idea.
The students to choose a picture- any picture they want as long as it tells a story. I don't want the caption- just the photo- and then I have the students glue their photo in side of their frame.
The next step is to have the students figure out the main idea of their picture. What is the picture all about? I don't necessarily want to model this but we review again- it's one sentence to your mom as you're running out the door.
I instruct the students to write the main idea of the picture along the top of the frame and one supporting detail along each side and along the bottom.
After a bit, I invite some students to share their work under the ELMO. This is the perfect opportunity for the non- sharing students to evaluate their own work. When we discuss that some people have included ideas they can't see in the picture, it causes them to re- evaluate what they've done so that in the end each student comes up with a solid main idea for their picture. Eventually all students want to share and receive feedback so it gives everyone a chance to be successful under the camera.
During this sharing time, there were some students that we had to coach into finding the main idea, but for the most part, students seemed to be seeing the "whole picture", so to speak!!
As students are finishing up, we talk about how we can apply this to text. What do we do, now that we're older, and the books we read won't all have pictures? How will we know when we have captured the true essence of a text? The students, of course, can parrot the definition and idea of what I'm asking, but has this picture activity helped them to bridge the gap?
This lesson ends with a modeling session in exit ticket form trying to cross the bridge from pictures to text. I put a short text under the ELMO and read it aloud. I then have students turn to their shoulder partners to share what they think the main idea is. I ask a few shoulder partners to share out and it seems that, for this text, they could get the main idea. I pass out the selection and instruct students to record the main idea and have them find the three supporting details independently.
I collect the exit tickets and evaluate them to see how to proceed with main idea instruction.