4-2-1 Free Write for Main Idea

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SWBAT determine the main idea and use evidence to support it.

Big Idea

Writing to Learn and promote critical thinking.

Free Write

5 minutes

To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch:Classroom Video: Connection to Prior Knowledge

To start off this lesson I will pose the following questions:  What motivates you to do well in school?  If grades don't motivate you, what would?  

The students will copy this question into their reading notebooks.  Next they will participate in a 5 minute free write.  The idea is that they must write to this prompt for 5 minutes solid.  

This is going to be really daunting for your students because five minutes seems like a really long time.  They will struggle to keep going, and that is okay!  I tell them, when you are stuck, write about why you are stuck.  See if anything pops into your mind.  Just keep writing!  The point is to build up writing endurance and show students how writing can lead to more ideas to write about.  Forcing them to keep going will also keep them thinking about the issue at hand.

Once they are finished writing, give students a few minutes to chat with their shoulder partners about what they've written. Sixth graders will most likely have strong opinions about this, so I want to take advantage of this natural opportunity for them to practice their speaking and listening skills.  

Student Example

Reading Time

20 minutes

To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch:Classroom Video: Complex Tasks

Now present students with this article, "Should You Pay for an A."  As they read, have them highlight information that they feel is important to the article.  When they finish reading, have them write the 4 most important items that this article presents.  I am going to ask my students to write these items in complete sentences right under their free write paragraph in their notebooks.  

I will have students partnered for this activity because some of the vocabulary in the  text is a bit difficult.  I will also be available to answer any questions about vocabulary or concepts presented in the article.  Students will read in a reciprocal manner where one student reads and the second summarizes.  They will take turns reading like this while deciding what are the 4 most important parts of the article.  

This activity promotes the Common Core shift of reading informational text, that is also quite rigorous while preparing them to write for a variety of reasons.  

Refine Ideas

10 minutes

To see this part of the lesson unfold, watch:Classroom Video: Shared Expectations

Each group of partners will have a list of the 4 things that are the most important in the article. The partners will discuss their 4 and narrow them down to 2.  Next the partners will meet up with another group of 2 and share their ideas.  Together these groups of 4 will attempt to come to consensus on the very most important part of the article.  If they cannot come to consensus, that is fine.  For this part of the activity, they can go with the majority.  If the group is split evenly that will work as well.  I am more concerned about the dialogue and discussion than coming to actual consensus.  

Each group of 4 will share out their very most important point aloud with the class, and I will record it on the smart board.  

We will have a brief class discussion over these ideas.  What do you agree with or disagree with?  

Student Example

Writing with Evidence

20 minutes

To see this part of the lesson unfold, watchClassroom Video: Real World Applications

Now, it is time to write!  Each person will be starting with the one idea that was the most important.  If students agree with their group members, they can use their own idea at this point.Students will elaborate on the main idea by using evidence from the article along with their own ideas.  Again, this will be a 5 minute free write where I encourage them to write for the entire time.  

This is an example of what CCSS refers to as readable writing.  This a high quality piece of writing that is organized and thought out but not taken through the entire writing process.  It will help students prepare for assessments like PARCC where they have to write a constructed response on the spot.   

This writing time  promotes critical thinking and allows students to work on creating a range of writing tasks which are both crucial part of the CCSS.  

Student Work