Lesson: Main Idea and Details

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify the main idea and supporting details of a fiction or non-fiction passage.

Lesson Plan

5th Grade
RC 2.3 –Main Idea
Standard : 5.R.2.3
Discern main ideas & concepts presented in texts, ID & assess evidence that supports the ideas
I. Desired Outcome
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to correctly answer 4/5 multiple choice questions on the Main Idea quiz.
II. Evidence of Learning
-student worksheets identifying main idea
-group discussions during “Read, Write and Walk”
III. Opening the Lesson
A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:
 1. Motivates and engages students,
 2. Either assesses prior knowledge or explicitly builds on prior knowledge/life experiences/interests – for example, “Do Nows”
 3. States the objective of the lesson.
B. How long will the opening take?
C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
One thing all good readers can do is identify the main idea of a text. To be able to summarize, question, make inferences and think about what you read in other ways, it is important that you are able to figure out what the big idea is. Ask yourself, “What is the author writing about? What is this mostly about?” This is a skill that is important for writers too. Establishing your main idea and then supporting it with details is how we organize and plan our writing.
Ask: Why might a reader want to know the main idea of what they read?
(discuss: to guide research, to find a book that meets your interests, to answer a question, to recommend to another person, etc.)
Objective: Today we will practice reading different texts and identifying the main idea.
(5 min)
IV. Instruction and Modeling – What is the teacher doing?
A.What are you going to teach and how? (Will you provide relevant information, model thought processes, establish guides or graphic organizers, etcetera?)
B.How will you differentiate instruction? (small groups, guided math, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, etc)
C..How long will each activity take?
D. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
E. Consider Newmann’s Rigor
Day 1: Introduction and Model
Think about the last book you read. What was it mostly about? Write your answer in one sentence. (I recommend using a book you read as a class as an example. We just read Because of Winn Dixie and our sentence might be: “Because of Winn Dixie is a fictional story about a girl named Opal who is trying to make friends in her new town.” (Many books have a one sentence summary on the copyright page. You could have a whole separate lesson on using and writing these one line main idea summaries.) Have a few students share their examples with the class and provide constructive criticism. 
Now it is important to remember that the main idea is different from the topic. The topic of a text is the subject. You can usually state the topic using just a word or two. Imagine where you would find that book in the library. Books are sorted by topic. For example, you might find a shelf of 20 books all on the topic of the Civil War.   Each of these books shares the same topic, but they each have a different main idea.
The main idea is the main point the author wants to make. For example, one Civil War book could have the main idea that Lincoln was a hero of the Civil War while another book about the Civil war could have the main idea that Lee was a leader for the Confederate states during the Civil War. Two different main ideas, one topic.
Let’s read this non-fiction passage and then see if we can find the topic and the main idea. (distribute copies of “Obama in Afghanistan, Time for Kids). Have students read silently and then read together (I usually just call on volunteers or read it myself if there is a lot of tricky vocabulary.)
Discuss: Now what do you think the topic is? If you were going to search for this article on the internet, what search terms would you use? (possible topics: Obama, Afghanistan, Obama in Afghanistan). 
Okay, we know the topic now. What is the author telling us in this article? What is the most important point? Talk to your neighbor and see if you can summarize the main idea in just one sentence. You can highlight key words and phrases in the article if that helps.
Have students share ideas and as a class, choose one sentence that best summarizes the main idea of the article. (e.g. President Obama visited Afghanistan to talk about the war.)
You may want to stop now and work to have the students outline the article as follows:
I. Main Idea
àA. Supporting detail
àB. Supporting detail
àC. Supporting detail
Outlining in this way will strengthen the reading/writing connection as students work the writing process in reverse.
(20-30 minutes)
V.Guided Practice – What are the students doing?
A.What will students do to interact and practice the subject matter? 
B. How will you differentiate instruction? 
C.What sorts of groupings will you use?
D.How long will each activity take?
Day 2: Read, Write and Walk Activity
Yesterday we practiced identifying the main idea of a text. Today you will work with a small group to find the main ideas of several different passages together. 
I would arrange 2 rotation cycles. To do this, print “Find the main idea,” and make two large copies of each passage. Make a class set of the first page (that has all passages on it.) Each rotation cycle will have 5 stations. At each station there will be a large copy of one of the passages (1-5) and a copy of the discussion questions. 
Each group will start at a different station. I would give about 7 minutes for each station. During this time, the group should read the paragraph silently and then read it aloud. (Encourage multiple readings.) After the second read, the students will have a short discussion about the passage using the guiding questions. Give a 2 minute warning and in this time, students will record the main idea on their answer sheet. When time is up, students will rotate to the next station. Continue through rotation until students have read, discussed and written the main idea for each of the five passages.
To wrap up, students return to their seats. Post each text (one at a time) using a projector and call on different students to share the main idea they came up with for the passage. Help students use sentence frames to agree or disagree with other students but remind students there can be more than one way to state the main idea. Be clear about why a sentence does or does not accurately represent the main idea. Discuss if the details support the main idea and so on.
Two rotation cycle model: A different group is at each passage. You need 10 different groups. 
One side of the room:
Passage 1àPassage 2àPassage 3àPassage 4àPassage 5
Other side of room:
Passage 1àPassage 2àPassage 3àPassage 4àPassage 5
(1 hour)
VI. Independent Practice
Day 3: Assess
Distribute multiple choice quiz. If you have students reading below grade level and want only to test their understanding of Main Idea, and not their ability to read/decode the text, I suggest that you read each passage aloud to the class or to a small group. Encourage students to mark up the text by crossing out silly answers, underlining evidence in the text, paraphrasing the question and so on. 
You can have the students work with a partner if they are not ready for independent work, or administer as a quiz.
(15 minutes)
VIII. Closing the Lesson
Correct the quiz together and explain answer.   Model test taking skills with thinking aloud: “I knew this wasn’t the right answer because…”
Spiral identifying main idea into regular reading instruction. Make “What is the main idea of this text?” a regularly asked question in your class. Regularly differentiate between topic, main idea, theme and author’s message.
(10 minutes)
1. What went well?
2. What would you change?
3. What needs explanation?
*The “Read, Write and Walk” model works well for giving the students to participate, get lots of practice and MOVE around the room. We actually do this in a separate part of the school called “The Great Room” which is a bit like a multipurpose room because our classroom is too small to facilitate rotating groups.
*Making two copies of each passage allows for smaller groups and increased student participation.
*I should have mixed in a few other genres for the group practice. For example, given the students a poem to analyze or a short story to read. 
*Make sure you establish clear guidelines for how students will move from one paragraph to another. You need norms for volume, movement, participation and so on. I would recommend having a spot to move students who are not working well with their group so that they can sit by themselves and finish the work independently as a consequence.

Lesson Resources

does this match the Main Idea   Activity
Chapter Notes   Notes
Find the Main Idea   Activity
5 RC 2 3 main idea 5question quiz   Assessment
5R 2 3 Main Idea  
Feeling the heat main idea   Reading Passage
Obama in Afghanistan   Reading Passage


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