Digging Up the Main Idea

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SWBAT use an annotated text to fill in a graphic organizer with main ideas and summarize a nonfiction article about the work of archaeologists.

Big Idea

Uncover how archaeologists use evidence to reach conclusions.

Ordered Steps

15 minutes

Now that we have made our way through the text of “Archaeologists: History's Detectives” in its entirety and marked it up, we start the class with a quick review of what it is about. This leads to a discussion of how information in a text can be organized. Students are quick to point out that their science textbook often presents information in a problem/solution format and they refer to something we recently in history class that was uses a compare/contrast method. We thought of other ways including sequencing, cause/effect, and description. We took out our nonfiction notes and added this list of text structures to it.

After a few minutes studying the list and considering the article, students chatted with classmates at their table groups and came to the conclusion that this article was organized as a set of ordered steps, also known as sequencing.  I pass out the graphic organizers and we work together to fill it in a way that matches how the text describes how archaeologists work: Study – Develop a hypothesis – Make a plan – Find a site – Excavate the site – Analyze the data – Come to a conclusion – Tell a story. A completed copy of the graphic organizer appears here.

One reason for the success of this lesson is the forethought given to how to guide students through the task and how to group students in a way that everyone focuses on the work. Some thoughts on that appears here.


35 minutes

To assess student comprehension of the text, they completed a set of 8 multiple choice questions based on the reading and 2 short answer questions. In addition, they were asked to write summaries using the information on their graphic organizers. I am pleased to say that 80% of students scored in the proficient range.