So, we jumped right in with main idea. We began by looking over this anchor chart. Some things that I have noticed that really help my students are focusing on the title, pictures, beginning/ending sentence, and words that are used repeatedly. At this point, we talked about how the the author puts a lot of thought into his/her title, and it has a lot to do with what the book is about. Also, the illustrator wouldn't waste his/her time on pictures for events that weren't important! Especially with articles, the author often comes right out with the main idea in the first or last sentence. Lastly, if a word is used several times throughout the text, it is important!
We began with a paragraph about Chew-a-lot gum. Each student received a sentence. We read through each sentence and determined which sentence was the main idea. The main idea was that Chew-a-lot is the best gum. The other sentences described how the gum was the best. One of my groups nailed this activity, but the lower group struggled.
My students glued a copy of the anchor chart into their reader's notebooks for future reference. Then, I gave students a copy of a web that I made for one of our books. Students read the book in a typical guided reading whisper read. (This is when I am assisting students with their individual word attack needs.) Then, we used our anchor chart to go through and identify the main idea. We looked at the title, pictures, key words, and beginning/end. I showed students how this main idea goes in the center of the web. Then, we went through the book and identified where the supporting details came from.
For each group of students, I selected two books and an article. For the books, I chose one fiction and one nonfiction. The articles were also nonfiction. Students continued reading each book in typical guided reading fashion, with the whisper read. I modeled the main idea/detail web for the fiction book, and we completed the web together for the nonfiction book. Students completed the web for the article independently. Main idea is a challenging skill that we will continue to work on, but we are making progress!
How do you teach main idea?