My students needed more time on identifying the main idea and supporting details. I wanted to keep them engaged in what we were learning, so I created a SmartBoard lesson and a game for them to play while learning. Students are more apt to learn content if they are engaged. Working cooperatively in a game kept them attentive, but accountable for doing their best to get the correct answer.
I wanted to move my students towards working with longer text, so I found longer passages with multiple paragraphs for them to read. I started the SmartBoard lesson by reviewing the definition of main idea and supporting details. I also told them the structure of a paragraph because the passages they read required them to answer questions about specific paragraphs. Next, I displayed a passage on the document camera and modeled reading it and the answer choices. One of the questions asked about the main idea of a specific paragraph. I modeled numbering the paragraphs and circling the one specified in the question. I was sure to tell students that some paragraphs are indented versus starting on a new line so they would be aware of both formats. I re-read the first answer choice and highlighted details that matched that answer choice in orange. I read the second answer choice and highlighted details that matched in green. I did the same for the third and fourth answer choices in yellow and blue respectively. I thought aloud, “What is this passage mostly about? Is it mostly about A? (I really read the entire answer choice.) No, because only one detail talks about that. Is it B? It has the most details highlighted in orange. I’m going to put a question mark next to it and check the rest of the choices. Is it C? No, it only has two details. Can it be D? No, it only has one detail. Okay, the answer must be B because most of the details talk about that.” Students can see the passage highlighted mostly in orange, indicating those details mostly support the main idea.
I did another example like this and guided students in doing the same.
During independent practice, I explained the rules of the game, Roll Em'!. (See rules in SmartBoard lesson.) I divided students up into groups, gave them their work, and got started. I walked around and monitored students as they worked, providing support as needed.
Students really enjoyed playing the game. It was out of the norm and fun. They found it very engaging. They were able to discuss their answers with others, go to the SmartBoard to highlight and explain their answers, and hear other teams’ explanations.
I assessed students as I walked around and monitored their work. I was also able to assess when they went to the SmartBoard. Even though they worked in teams, individual explanations clued me in to their understanding of the concept. If a student could not explain why a supporting detail supported the main idea, I knew they did not fully comprehend yet. They were on my radar for the following day’s lesson and a candidate for small group instruction.
To close the lesson, I wanted students to examine today’s learning. I asked them which questions were difficult to answer and why. The most common response was question 1 because two answer choices had the same number of supporting details. I could readily see how this would be confusing to students. Instead of telling them how to figure it out, I asked students how they figured it out. One student said she looked at the first and last sentence of the paragraph to give her a hint and asked, “Is the passage mostly about types of apples?” She said that helped her find the answer. Hearing from another student reinforces the concept that students should be allowed to share strategies with each other. Sometimes, they are the best teacher.