What's the Big Idea?

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SWBAT...identify and support with evidence the main idea in the section of text "Bud Not Buddy" that they read

Big Idea

Understanding the main idea shows students' connection to the characters and events in the story.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

I gather students on the carpet and share with them that I am going to have them close their eyes and listen to different forms of music. I want them to think about the ways the music makes them feel and be prepared to share with their elbow partners when the music stops.

I play a short section of relaxing music ask students to close their eyes and think about how it makes them feel.

Give a moment and then ask students to share. I then play a second music track of dance music and follow the same questioning.

I then play the third music track of jazz music and ask students what it made them feel. I call on students to share aloud. 


I then share with students that the third piece was called Jazz music. I project it on the board and read them the history behind the music 

I state the objective that today we are going to read more about Bud Not Buddy and identify the main idea and supporting details of the next chapter. We are also going to compare and contrast Bud's current life at the orphanage with the excitement of meeting his dad, the leader of one of these jazz bands, to understand why he risked so much to find him.  

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I then ask students "How would you describe the main idea?". Students share and I make notes on the board under the heading THE MAIN IDEA IS.... I then ask them "How do we locate and identify the main idea while we are reading?" Students share. If students don't come to the realization I state that we think about the big idea or topic of the section we are reading and then I relate this to a scene of a play and share if you had one scene, what would be the most important parts to show?

I then tell them that we are going to practice identifying the main idea together using small passages from other books and then we will apply what we learned to the book Bud Not Buddy.     

I introduce the main idea worksheet (Identifying the main ideas in text) on the overhead and pass out copies to each student.

We review and practice the sections together and students respond and share with their table groups before we identify the correct main idea in each part of the worksheet. I want them to build identification skills but also practice debating their answers using Academic Discourse - 3 parts so we practice - Turn and Debate - Partners/ tables take turns responding and practicing their debate language as they go around the group. Each table/partner group needs to decide on the best response and signal when they have it - then we do a whole class share and debate)   

Students were very successful with identifying the main idea but struggled a bit with finding the best evidence to support their choices. I think the turn and talk/ debate helped them to clarify what was good evidence for the majority compared to what was a good guess (by themselves). What I heard was students adapting or changing their thinking because others support was stronger than theirs  


Independent Learning

20 minutes

I pass out their Bud Not Buddy books, or next passage sections, and ask them to read quietly. In this lesson I am really focusing on helping students learn how to identify the main idea of their reading so I share that they will read with this purpose in mind. I want to teach them how to be active readers who think and process ideas as they are reading. Knowing that it is difficult for students to hold on to ideas as they are focusing on the events in the text, I give each student small Post it notes. They use these to write on or mark in their book where they identify the main idea and where there is supporting details or evidence that would help their debates. The primary area I saw them struggle with was finding the primary main ideas rather than the lesser ideas and with supporting them with stronger evidence but I did not address most of these because I wanted them to use their group discussion times to come to a better understanding. I have found that the less I step in and give direction the more quickly they take the incentive to run their groups themselves ...but I always listen for misconceptions that are not corrected by peers.   

Students read for 15  min. and then I signal for them to stop. Students are randomly grouped (call sticks) in groups of 4-6 and asked to debate stronger-weaker main ideas using their academic discourse sentence prompts.

I circulate the room and listen in taking notes but I try not to interrupt.  I do this because 1. I want them to run their own groups, 2. I want them to adjust to my being near and listening but not in control when they meet independently, and 3. I want students to focus on talking to a group.


Closing the Loop

5 minutes

We gather together on the carpet and I ask students to share their main ideas of the text.

I then ask them:  What was easy about identifying the main idea? and what was difficult about identifying it?

I close with asking: What was the best part of sharing in a group and what was difficult about it?

I want them to develop a level of communication that builds trust in the fact that they are all facing the same difficulties and successes...and they can learn more from sharing their understanding of the story together. This discussion also helps them to compare group ideas and to either affirm or change their prior thinking. It makes "failure" acceptable and helps it be seen as an effective learning point.

I collect the books and take notes for what issues to address and what groups/ people to listen to next time.  I gauge this according to what they responded both in their small groups and in our closing discussions and look for ways to teach effective sharing and participation strategies.