Today I want my students to practice finding the main idea of some informational text. Before we begin, I will model the process with my students as a quick refresher.
I chose to have my students find the main idea of a paragraph that they had just read as daily work so it was fresh in their minds. I asked them to reread it while underlining key words. Next, I asked them to identify the topic. We took the topic, which was the gold rush, and together, we wrote a main idea.
I reminded the students that their main idea needs to be a sentence that probably begins with the topic and includes who, what, when, where, and why if possible.
Now, it is time for some guided practice. This strategy is my favorite way to trick students into having fun when, really, they are doing something pretty boring...like finding the main idea!
I had the students partner up in groups of twos. I will run two or three separate rotations depending on class size. Each rotation will consist of 5 different stations for students to travel through. I found five different informational passages where the main idea is either stated or implied. I cut them up and put them in a page protector. Each station will need this plus a white board.
The students will spend about 4 minutes at each station reading, marking key words on the page protector with a white board marker, and finally writing a main idea on the large white board.
I will monitor during this activity and make sure that students are writing main ideas correctly. The most common mistake my students will make is writing a topic and calling it the main idea. I anticipate that many will forget to use complete sentences as well.
Once the rotations are finished, students will return to their original spots. They will look at the main ideas on the white board in front of them. They'll read each and code them with
* if it's a true main idea
T if it's just a topic
D if its just a detail
I will monitor this part making sure that they can identify these common mistakes. I feel that being able to identify mistakes is one way to make sure that students deeply understand a concept.
I'll have each group chose the best example of a main idea to share with the class.