Looking at the Page Headers

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SWBAT use page headers to identify the details in a text

Big Idea

In this lesson students will make the connection between page headings and details in a text.


Common Core Connection:

The anthology reading of Butterfly, by Mary Ling, is one of the first experiences my students have with using text structures in an informational text.  Up to this point they have had a lot of practice identifying the main topic and details, today’s reading will help them see a relationship between page headings and supporting details.

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson I pointed out the page titles or headings and explained how the headings give a brief overview, or clue, as to what the text is going to be about. 


  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 8: Our Earth, Butterfly, by Mary Ling

(If you do not use this curriculum try: Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Lisa M. Herrington) 

  • Topic, Main Idea, Detail Activity Sheet (teacher created)


5 minutes

As my students settled on the rug I reminded them that the day before they labeled their papers with beginning, middle, middle continued, and end before adding a picture and a sentence to retell the stages, or events that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.  Yesterday’s lesson was an introduction to today, where they were going to take it a step further by identifying the topic, main idea, and supporting details of the text, as well as learn how to use the headings at the top of the page to make it easier.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

I then had my students stand up and stretch their arms out like butterfly wings as they soared to their desks.  My students know they like going to their desks flapping their arms like a butterfly, what they are not consciously aware of is that I am sneaking in vocabulary, such as the word 'soar', and I am re-enforcing the meaning with a movement.  All they are aware of is that I am being a cool teacher and giving them an opportunity to be less structured and express themselves creatively.

Once settled at their desks with their anthologies out, I pointed out that the page heading gives a clue about what the author wrote on each page, as well as a clue about a detail.  To practice I had my students look at the first heading, Out of the Egg, and asked them what they thought that page was going to be about.  Without hesitation they all responded, ‘the egg hatching’, or ‘the caterpillar hatching’.  From there I told my students these headings also can help them find supporting details to the main idea.

At this point I explained that as my students read to their seat partners, they were to pay close attention to what the headings on the top of the pages said and think about how it gives a clue to the details of the text. The video Partner Reading is an example of how students help each other read and understand.

After reading I gave my students the opportunity to think about and partner share what the topic of this text was.  The video Making Connections is an 'ah-ha' moment for a student - one of the best reasons to teach First Grade!  I then used the magic cup to select one partner pair to tell me.  The answer I was looking for: The topic is life cycle of butterflies.  My students showed me with a thumb up that they agreed.  From there I gave them the directions to their collaborative activity. 


Collaborative Activity

15 minutes

I then displayed the Topic, Main Idea, and Detail activity sheet of the Promethean board, and explained they would work with a partner (different from their table partner to mix it up) to finish it.  I also pointed out that they had done this activity before; however, I wanted them to use the headings in the text to help them identify the supporting details. 

I then directed my students to their partners.  I had them get their pencils and books, stand up, and quietly walk to their new work partner.  Once they were partnered up they were to sit at the desk of whichever partner’s desk they were closest to.  When they were all settled, I directed their attention to the Promethean board and asked for a volunteer to restate the directions to the class.  I then passed out their student copies of the activity sheet. 

While they were working I met with each partner pair to make sure they were on task or needed further clarification.  It is important to meet with each group, more than once.  Besides helping to control the noise level, it helps students realize that even though you are not always by their side, they are still responsible for they work.

Here is an example of some questions I asked students after they had Finished Their Work.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

When we finished the collaborative activity we moved into our differentiated reading rotations.  During this time, my students are in their reading groups where they rotate through different learning areas which include working on the computer, reading with me, and writing in their journals.  I use journal writing as a learning tool to help my student’s synthesize the collaborative activities.  I encourage my students to use the writing skills they are learning during the writing block to make their journal writing more concrete.  I check their journals for neatness, completeness, and understanding during their reading time with me.

In today’s journal I encouraged my students to start with a ‘hook’ phrase and describe the topic, main idea, and key details from today’s text.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker my students answered this question: How do page headings help you understand a text?