Main Idea - Making a Poster on Ways to Take Care of the Forest

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

Big Idea

Students will analyze the main ideas in an informational text and then report out about their analysis to educate others about the environment.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

One of the great things about Common Core is that we can integrate so many science and social studies topics into our reading.  I used this lesson with the leveled reader, "People Help In The Forest," from Pearson's Reading Street.  You could also use this exact lesson with any other science content reader such as recycling or taking care of the environment.  This is a reading comprehension lesson so just make sure that whatever book you use the children are actually reading the content.  Reading comprehension and listening comprehension are very different.

In this lesson students will have to answer text-dependent questions that I pose in order to better understand the story.  This addresses standard RI.1.1.  As we plan our posters, we will also be filling out our tree maps in order to categorize the main idea and details of several parts of the story.  This addresses standard RI.1.2.  Finally, they will be make an informative poster that shows their readers ways in which to take care of the forest.  Students will be writing the main idea and details from their tree maps to make their posters.  This addresses standard W1.2.

For this lesson you will want to make enough copies of the tree maps, Student Copy Tree Map, and poster templates, Forest Poster Template, for each of the students in your group.

A note about the lessons within this unit: I have an hour to teach 4 small groups each day.  Each group gets 15 minutes with me each day.  I am writing this lesson as a whole lesson, but I could never get it done with each reading group all in one day.  Realistically it took me 3 days to do this lesson with each group.  You can easily take this lesson and chunk it out to how it will fit your classroom based on what your district mandates and what time restraints you have in your classroom.

Reading and Discussion of the Main Ideas in the Text

15 minutes

I wanted to focus on identifying the main idea and details of the story.  I chose to teach the text by having my students identify the main ideas and details of the three different parts of the story, and I knew that I needed to preview the text and bring out those important parts before I taught the text to my students.  You will need to preview the text as well, if you are using a different text.

We began to read the story and discuss it in depth.  Our story was about the forest, so, after reading, we connected the story to our lives.  I teach in Tennessee, so many of my students have had the experience of camping in the forest.  I focused on 3 parts of the story.  If you are teaching this lesson with a different book, I would suggest that you pick out a book that has 3 main parts and focus on those 3 different areas of the book that contain important main ideas and details.

To bring students to a point where they could all perform this skill with this text, I made sure we weren't just sitting and talking aimlessly about the text.  I was very specific with my teaching.  We identified the main idea and details of the 3 parts of the story.  We focused on:

  • The forest is a habitat for many plants and animals.  We shouldn't destroy this habitat by littering.
  • People enjoy the forest when they go camping and need to be careful with fire when camping.
  • There are important people who care for the forest (special firefighters and the forest service).

Making Our Tree Map

40 minutes

The next part of our lesson was where we categorized the main idea and details from our text and made a tree map.  By making the tree map we were able to dive farther into our text. We really spent a great deal of time talking and connecting the text to our life experiences.  If you are using a different book take your main idea and details from yesterday and have your students record them on the tree map.

This video will give you a better idea of how we structured our thinking: Example Tree Map Forest Lesson.

Making Our Poster

15 minutes

The next part of our lesson is where we created our poster. I passed out the poster templates  to students . Students also had their completed tree maps to refer back to. 

We had just learned about author's purpose a few weeks prior to this.  I related this activity back to author's purpose.  I told the students, "A few weeks ago we talked about how an author either entertains a reader or informs a reader.  You are an author today.  When you take your poster home your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa etc ... are going to be your audience.  Are you making this poster to make your audience laugh or to inform them?   That's right to inform.  You are going to teach them ways they can take care of the forest."

I told them to write "Ways to Take Care of the Forest" in the middle circle.  Then they had to write and illustrate 4 ways to inform people how to take care of the forest that they learned from the text.  They had to use at least one example from each of the three columns on their tree map.  Then they could pick that 4th detail from any column they wished on the tree map.

Then the students got to work to complete their posters.

I have a video Making Our Forest Poster of how my students made their tree maps and posters so you can have a better idea of the process.


3 minutes

As a closure, my students wanted to read their posters to the group.  I have a video Reading Our Forest Poster of some of my students sharing their posters, and I am asking them questions, probing to see what they've learned as a result of the lesson.  You can also see some examples and my thoughts about their work by clicking here: Student Work Forest Posters.