Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Main Idea Week in 4th Grade

Hi, everyone! I wanted to stop in and share some ideas about teaching Main Idea! I don't know about you, but this is a skill my students seem to always have difficulty with. 

First of all, the students glued this foldable into their Interactive Reading Notebooks. Each time I asked them to find the main idea of a passage they looked back in their notebooks and followed the steps we'd practiced. That first day's practice was some simple paragraphs I put up on the Smartboard. 


The next day started out with a review using our notebooks and then I had the students glue some practice paragraphs onto the other side of their notebooks.


These little passages all came from this 3rd grade lesson on Readworks.org. It was great practice for us and I love that everyone now has this glued in their notebook and can go back to see how we applied the process from our foldable.

On the third day of our study the kiddos reviewed the steps and then got into pairs to work on finding the main idea of the passage below. 




They used this free graphic organizer from Wendy Gilstrap on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

I like to have my students work on coming up with the main idea using their own words rather than choosing a specific sentence from the paragraph or passage to be the main idea. That's not to say that we don't use sentences from the passage as main ideas, but I don't really give them the option of just looking for one sentence to choose. I want them to think it through in their heads and then see if they can match a sentence or phrase from the paragraph to their thinking. It seems to me that so many standardized test questions now are asking students to formulate a main idea on their own rather than just pick one from the story/passage.


After all the groups were finished we went over the passage together as a class to discuss our ideas and come up with what we thought were the best supporting details for the main idea the students chose. 

I had the class do this routine a couple times until I felt like everyone was ready to try the skill on their own. I gave all my kiddos one of the main idea sheets from the Reading Passages section on Readworks to try the skill on their own. Then, we discussed the questions and answers in class. Finally, I used another of the main idea passages as an assessment. 

Quick Tip 

I always teach my kids to use tally marks when they are answering main idea multiple choice questions. For each answer choice go back to the paragraph and count up all the evidence that supports that idea. Each piece of evidence gets a tally mark and the answer with the most tally marks wins! It is an almost fail proof system to answering those questions if students will take the time to use it! 


Do you have a favorite main idea lesson you'd like to share? I'm always looking for something new to add to my bag of tricks! 


9 comments:

  1. Main idea definitely is a tricky one to teach. Foldables are great for helping. I also really enjoy using short articles. I think it is a great way to ease into finding the main idea. Thanks for sharing!

    Amy
    Eclectic Educating

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  2. I love your foldables! As a fellow VA teacher, I'm always looking for teaching ideas because we aren't CCSS aligned like everyone else, which means resources are still available, but not as easily searchable. I love your foldables!! Have you ever used the "UNRAVEL" strategy for reading passages? I wrote about it on my blog at this post: http://3rdgradethings.blogspot.com/search/label/unravel I use it in science so my students have practice for the SOLs in the spring w/ non fiction passages. We also use it for fiction passages in language. Great blog! :)

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  3. I reallly like the idea of using tally marks to see which answer has the most evidence. Stealing that!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the tally marks idea is in this book http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/comprehension-mini-lessons-main-idea-summarizing

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  4. I love the idea of using the tally marks! I've never thought of that! Genius! Can't wait to share that tip with my students!
    Sarah
    Beyond The Gradebook

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    Replies
    1. the tally marks idea is in this book http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/comprehension-mini-lessons-main-idea-summarizing

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  5. Hello! I was wondering if you could share the assessment you used for this lesson? I would greatly appreciate it:)

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    Replies
    1. Are you referring to the assessment in the last picture? That is from a scholastic book on main idea. I also used the assessments from the read works passages.

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