Determining the Main Idea and Details and Theme of the Story

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SWBAT retell the story describing the characters, setting, and major events using key details.

Big Idea

Today we are going to determine the main idea and details and discuss the theme of a story.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

         In today's lesson, we are going to be winding things up with discussing the main idea and details and determining the theme of the story.  When students discuss the main idea and detail, we address standards RL1.1, and RL1.3.  When students discuss the theme of the story, they address standard RL1.2.  Students will also have the opportunity to write an opinion based on evidence from the text.  This addresses standard W1.3.

     For today's lesson you will want to have the book "Owl Moon' to refer back to.  Students will need their student work packets.  If you have a Smartboard you will need Owl Moon.notebook, and if you are a Promethean Board user you will need Owl Moon.flipchart.  You will also want to make enough copies of the Common Themes Chart Common Themes.jpg  for students to refer to when determining the theme of our story is.

Main Idea and Details - Guided Practice

15 minutes

     Once again, I paired up my students so they would have a different partner for the day.  I have some resources for you to creatively group your students.  Just click here PickYourColorPartner.pdf, PartnerPickingCardsPartnerMatchUp.pdf, and TheGrouperthefastandeasywaytogroupstudents.pdf .  

     I said, "Today we are going  to discuss what the main idea and the details are for this story.  Remember, the main idea of a story is what the story is mostly about.  I want you to talk to your partner about what you think this story is mostly about." I gave the students time to talk as partners and then we had a class discussion where students could express their opinion and then have the opportunity to agree or disagree with someone.  The students came to the consensus that this story was about a little girl and her Pa and they went owling in the forest so they could see an owl.  I can honestly say that my students really didn't have a problem determining what they main idea of the story was. After we discussed, we wrote the main idea in our graphic organizer on page 23 of our student packet.  You can see a snippet of this portion of the lesson here Discussing and Writing the Main Idea - Day 6 Owl Moon.mp4. We did run into some trouble when it came to determining the details.  You can see how I solved this problem in the reflection section here.

Determining the Theme - Independent Practice

10 minutes

  After we had gotten through our main idea and details I said, "Now we are going to to try and figure out what the theme of the story is.  Let' s learn about what theme is first." Then I read slide 41 on the Smartboard lesson that explained what theme was.  I passed out the Common Themes resource and we began to read what each of the themes were. 

     After reading the themes I gave students some private think time about what they thought the theme was. As I circulated around the room some students asked me, "Can there be more than one theme?" I said, yes there could and that if they could find evidence from the story that supported that there was more than one theme, then they could certainly tell me that.

    After giving students some private think time, I turned to slide 43 on the Smartboard lesson.  I said, "Now that you have a good idea of what you think the theme is, I want you to write the theme on the bottom part of your graphic organizer on page 23.  The graphic organizer doesn't say theme.  It says what I think the lesson to be learned is.  I want you to write down what you think the theme or themes are here.  I'll give you a minute to write this down."

     Once students wrote down what the theme was, I said, " I want you to think about the story.  At the top of our graphic organizer there are 3 boxes that say Character's Thoughts and Actions.  I want you to think about what the character's thought or did that support what you think the theme is.  I will give you several minutes to finish writing in your graphic organizer." We had read the story so much over the past few days, that I knew I didn't need to reread it to them. 

     When students were done writing their evidence in their graphic organizer, I said, "Turn to the top of page 24.  Let's read the question together." We read the question and then I said, "We just made a graphic organizer to help ourselves.  Use your graphic organizer as a tool to help you answer the question.  I will give you a few minutes to answer your question and don't forget to write down your evidence." I circulated around the room and made sure students were using their graphic organizer and citing the evidence in their answers. 

Writing Our Opinions - Independent Practice

10 minutes

   Finally, I turned to slide 44 on the Smartboard lesson.  I read, " After  the little girl and Pa stare at the owl, they walk home quietly.  Would you have done the same thing?  If you went owling, how would you walk home?" I gave students time to think about this first and then they wrote their opinions on their work packet on page 24.  Before they started I said, "Remember, you are stating an opinion.  What vocabulary do we start with when stating an opinion?"  My students were able to give me the examples of:

  • I think
  • I feel
  • I believe
  • In my opinion

Then they were off to work.

Our Closure

5 minutes

     My students were tired.  I was tired.  It had been a long lesson and a long week.  So I wanted a fun, short, closure.  We got out the koosh ball.  I asked a question and threw it to a student who thought they  could answer the question.  After the first student answered the question, they could throw the koosh ball to the next person when I asked the next question.  Some of the questions I asked were:

  • What is the main idea of the story?
  • What is a detail that supports the main idea?
  • What is the theme of the story?