Teaching Main Idea

Teaching students to read is such a rewarding experience but it can also be very challenging - for the teacher and for the students.

There are many different facets to the teaching of reading just as there are many different methods in how teachers execute their programs.

Do you do guided reading?  Whole class reading?  A combination of both?  Whichever way you teach students how to read, one of the best ways to increase comprehension is by teaching students how to find the MAIN IDEA.

It's not always an easy task to teach main idea as it is a rather abstract concept.  You can teach students to find the main idea of non-fiction or fiction readings.  When students are reading stories for main idea, it is also known as "theme".

When I teach reading in my classroom, we are always looking for the main idea.  In second grade, we transition from retellings (which include a lot of the details) to the main idea and supporting details. I created this resource to further help my students identify the main idea.

First, we spend some time learning more about the difference between a retelling and a main idea.

We practice a lot by listening to readings and having class discussions on main idea.  We get into partners and we work independently on printables. Students become really good at it!  It's a good idea to start with non-fiction as students can usually identify the main idea much more easily than with fiction.

The important thing when teaching students to find the  
main idea "theme" of a story  is that students understand that the story would not make sense without the main idea. The supporting details would have nothing to attach to, therefore making it an incomplete story.  I teach students to ask themselves questions as they read.  Could that have happened without "__________" not happening? Could the idea stand alone?  Maybe with different details?  If not, it's probably a detail. Here is an example of early stages of teaching students to find the main idea.  As time goes on, students learn to use less details in their description and only give the main idea of the story or chunk of the story. 

Part of this main idea package is to put a visual in the students' head that demonstrates main idea.  Here is one I have included in the pack.

I have also included a 3-d craftivity to demonstrate that the main idea "drives" the  text.

Main Idea

Students can also practice their MAIN IDEA reading by completing some tasks cards. There are fiction and non-fiction task cards included.

You can check out more of this set by clicking the picture and visiting my TPT shop.

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