Getting StartedI always start my main idea unit with teaching the difference between interesting facts and important information. We start with reading short articles from Time for Kids or National Geographic as a whole class, and then move to students doing this work independently with their Just Right books in their book boxes. I give students a two column T-chart graphic organizer to organize the information they read.
Introducing Main IdeaOnce students know how to differentiate between interesting and important, we move on to singling out the most important fact from the text: the main idea.
I was having a hard time finding text that were not only quick and short, but also at my students' reading levels for our first experiences with finding main idea. So I wrote some one, two, and three paragraph passages. We begin with multiple choice passages, so that we can have conversations about each option and why the right answer is correct and the wrong answers are not. It's a great way to tie in previous work with interesting vs. important.
Supporting DetailsThe next step after finding the main idea is to be able to find facts that support the main idea. The supporting details are the proof or the evidence that points to the main idea. We use the same passages, with both a given main idea and a blank main idea, to practice.
Fly Free Little Children!
It usually takes me about a week to teach and practice main idea and supporting details, but once my students have a strong grasp of it, I want them to apply this work independently with texts at their levels. I give them these graphic organizers to keep in their book boxes and eventually glue into their reader's notebook. I also use them during guided reading groups.
I have put together a little freebie HERE of some of the resources mentioned in this post.
Or if you want to check out the entire, 160 page resource, click the image below or HERE.