Jack Pretslusky

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SWBAT identify the main idea in a text and support their answer using text evidence.

Big Idea

Students work to find the main idea in a text about a poet who's a first grade favorite: Jack Pretslusky. Then they use evidence in the text to support the main idea.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

We are nearing the end of the year, and my class needs more work on determining the main idea in an informational text.  By asking the class to locate the main idea, use evidence from the text to support the main idea, and create an informational piece of text, I am trying to engage the class in three CCSS standards (see above tags): W.1.5 asks the student to revise and edit their work based on peer or teacher review, which is done in the partner work section of the lesson; W1.2 is met when we create an informational paragraph, and the students do this in the guided practice; RI.1.2 is the big comprehension skill of locating the main idea and supporting it with details.

Also, throughout this lesson, I am trying to get students to use their a higher order thinking skills. I find that higher order thinking activities really help my students gain a deep level of understanding of a skill.

Lesson Overview

To begin the lesson, I read a biographical piece about Robert Frost, and, together, we create an informational paragraph about what the text is about.  (It is basically a biography of his life.)  Using our classwork on Robert Frost as a model, the students then work to create their own piece based on their independent read of a text from our reading series about Jack Prelutsky. In the end, they share their work with their partner and make any revisions they feel necessary.

The class Transitions every twenty minutes and they work with their Peanut Butter Jelly Partner throughout the lesson. I have a video on each of these strategies in the resources.

Introductory Activity

I try to connect the lesson to my students' prior knowledge to begin, and they love the text, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, so I share that Jack Prelutsky is one of the author's of the text. I show the video reading of the book from below. Then I share that we are going to read a text about him, locate the main idea, and use evidence from the text to create an informational paragraph about the text.

After I share the lesson goal, I ask my class to repeat it three times. This engages them, get them speaking, and the repetition builds memory. 

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Before I let them do their own paragraph about Jack Prelutsky I share that I want to create a paragraph with them about Robert Frost.  This is a biography by doing this together the class will be more capable of creating their own paragraph.

So, I give each child a copy of the text, and I project it on the Smart board.  Then I read the text three times to the class, and they follow along. I am exposing them to complex text, but scaffolding with reading it aloud multiple times while they follow along.

Then I share the criteria for writing a paragraph. I just made a little song up (see the video in the resources). So I explain it, and we sing it. This just lets my class know what we are creating. One thing I love about small children is that they really don't care if you can carry a tune or sing at all.  They just enjoy the fun moments, and I put a video of my song in the resources.

Before the students talk to their partner about the main idea I try to provide some support so they get it right. Finding the main idea can be challenging for students, and I find that many students talk about the topic or a detail. So, I talk to the class about the main idea and reference some previous main ideas we found. I state that it is not a topic or a detail. It relates to the big idea and specific content the author is talking about. Two of my questions are, "Who are they talking about?" and "What did he do that was important?"

Then I ask them to focus on the title and use it to help you come up with the main idea. After about one minute, one volunteer shares their thoughts.  The rest of the class engages in a discussion, by adding too, disagreeing, or agreeing. Then, I add the main idea to the first sentence of our paragraph on the board. 

Now, we need to get at least three details from the text to support the main idea. I ask the student to talk about the details that support the main idea, and underline them in the text. Then several students share the ideas about the details. After each child shares others agree or disagree, and I add the final decision of the class to our paragraph. I am modeling correct writing. Once we have three details the students discuss a closing sentence. After they agree on a closing sentence I add it to the board.  I usually say, "If you agree show me thumbs up."  This way everyone is participating.

Partner Work

20 minutes

The students read the text about Jack Prelutsky, and write an informational paragraph stating the main idea and three details supporting the main idea.  After about fifteen minutes of writing, I ask the partners to read their work to their partner.  Each partner gives their peer feedback on things they could change, or things they really like. The students take about ten minutes to finish their writing. If they finish early they can reread the text and practice their fluency, or read a book of their choice. 

While the students are working I walk around and observe. If somebody is struggling with a work, reading, or getting started I start helping them.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

This is the time when we work on speaking and listening by allowing several students to share their work.  I find that being proactive helps students conform to my expectations, so I go over them with great detail before they begin sharing:

  • Sit on your bottom
  • Hold papers still
  • Look at the speaker
  • Think about what the speaker is saying.


5 minutes