Main Idea About Horses

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SWBAT locate the main idea and supporting details in an informational text.

Big Idea

Everyone likes horses, right! Enjoy teaching some engaging content while students practice determining the main idea and supporting details.


5 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

The Common Core standard for this lesson is RI.1.2, and it states that students need to be able to identify the main topic and retell the key details in a text. I love horses and most of my students do too so I thought we could explore a historical use of horses.  Common Core promotes learning social studies in context and I try to teach the students how horses helped with transportation.  First, students read the passage about horses, then we do the graphic organizer together.  Next student read a passage about the ocean and do the same graphic organizer in small groups.  I feel that keeping the graphic organizer consistent helps students organizer their ideas.

Working in small groups seems to promote collaboration and all students to help each other.  The groups (Peanut Butter Jelly Partner) are mixed so that students that are higher are challenged and have to explain the reasoning for things.  The higher achieving students also model for others which help students develop their comprehsion.


Showing students an image related to the text we are going to read about is a nice activating strategy that engages the class in predicting what the text might be about.  I project the lesson image on the Promethean board.  I allow students to share their ideas and justify them which engages the class in a higher order thinking activity.

I like for the class to echo the goal, tell a friend, and repeat it with me because I believe students need to know the lesson goal. I say, "I can identify the main idea and supporting details."

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Students relocate (Transitions) to their desks to read the text and get comfortable with the subject. After about three minutes of reading, the class listens as I explain that we will now echo read the text, which is how I scaffold the instruction to make sure everyone can read the text. When I echo read I read a sentence and then the students read it aloud after me.  We do this through the entire text.  The text I chose came from Read Works Passages and it called Horses and Carriages.

Then the students discuss the main idea with their peanut butter jelly partner. This is a partner that I assign the students and works at different ability.  As noted in the first section, partnering students of differing abilities helps them support each other because one student will have to explain and the other gets instruction.  I call one person the peanut and one the jelly.  Sometime I will ask the peanut butter partner to write or speak and vice verse. This allows me to organize collaboration and participation. 

After the discussion about the main idea several students share their reasoning for the main idea.  As a class we agree or disagree and develop the best idea for our main idea.  I try to promote discourse and get the students talking about the text. After we have developed our main idea I write it on the graphic organizer (C.031).

Then the students work with their peanut butter jelly partner to determine two supporting details. I explain that  the details must support the main idea.  After students discuss I allow several volunteers to share their ideas, justify their reasoning, and then other students agree or disagree.  Then I add the details that the class decided were the best.

 My notes (Model) keep me focused through all the discussion. I find that if I don't have the answers I am expecting written down I get lost in the lesson, and sometimes we get the wrong thing down. 

Partner Work

20 minutes

First graders need to move about every twenty minutes so I move the class to the center tables for the next part of the lesson.  I also think it helps me work with the groups because they are located at tables instead of all over the room at desks.  I might have two or three groups at a center table.  This makes it much easier to monitor and help the students.  

The students are given the text, The Amazing Ocean from Read Works and the graphic organizer (C.031). I walk around and ask questions.  I am constantly reminding the class that the main idea must be supported by the details. The details must come from the text.  Common Core is big on using text evidence. The students can highlight or use a pencil to identify the details and then they transfer them to the graphic organizer. Last, they work to determine the main idea.

Some of my questions I ask as I walk around are:

What does the first sentence of each paragraph say? (This is where we find most of our details.)

What it the big idea?

What is the title?

What is the first sentence?

Can you combine the details, title, and first sentence to determine a main idea?

Student Reflection

5 minutes

This is a nice time to transition back to the lounge so we can all be close together for several volunteers to present their work (Student Work).  This is a nice time to work on speaking and listening, but I have to go over the rules of speaking and listening clearly. Being proactive seems to be the best way to get the students to do what I want. So, I carefully explain that the students need to sit quietly, keep their eyes on the speaker, and give their peers feedback that is good quality.


5 minutes

Students are encouraged to collaborate and work on the speaking and listening skills as the discuss one thing they learned during this lesson.  I listen carefully to make sure the students are really talking and so I can reflect on what they say. I often share what I heard them say and ask other students to add to it to promote discourse.

 Last, we chant the lesson goal to reiterate the focus of the lesson. "I can determine the main idea and supporting details."