The last couple of weeks I have been focusing on identifying the main idea and details of a nonfiction text during my 4th grade small groups. We accomplished a lot in a little bit of time so I wanted to share what we did together!
Main Idea Teaching Tips
So many times when students are trying to discuss the main idea they do one of three things: They either tell the WHOLE story, give you one DETAIL, or give you one WORD which is more like the topic. Below you will see a Main Idea anchor chart that we used throughout our learning. It helps students stay on track with main idea. Here are the tips we used:
- Look at the title.
- Look at the pictures (if available)
- Reread the first and last sentence.
- Look for repeated words
Once my students were trained on what to look for, they were really able to identify the main idea in a much more efficient way.
Main Idea Picture It!
One of the activities that we did together was Main Idea Picture It! Our goal was to take a picture and determine what the main idea would be with the information given to us. On the screen, I showed one picture at a time.
Students brainstormed a main idea that would fit with the picture shown. Then, we used the image to generate three supporting details.
Main Idea Ice Cream
After practicing quite a bit together, the students broke out into small groups. Together, they read a short grade-level passage. Then, they identified the main idea and three supporting details. We put this information together on a main idea ice cream cone. A graphic organizer could be used as well, but these cones were just too cute!
Students did really well with this because we had practiced A LOT before I set them loose. In the past, I think that I set my students free way too soon. Most students really do need a lot of scaffolding and practice so that they can be successful on their own.
The great thing about all of these activities… they can be used at any grade level. You can find all of these activities and more in my new Main Idea unit.