Mini-Lesson: Finding the Main Idea in Nonfiction Text

Readers have been on the hunt for main ideas since our early literacy days. We are led to believe that the process of finding the main idea in text or a passage is quite simple. Just read the passage, look at the first or last sentence, and voila- there it is! Right?

To the contrary! Finding, articulating, and responding to someone's most important idea is a complex cognitive process requiring readers to use multiple strategies and skills.

Today's mini- lesson helps readers break down exactly what is involved in the process.

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  • Shaun Wood

    Thank you for posting such a fantastic lesson. As a beginning teacher is really helps to do an ‘observation’ of an experienced teacher, and I can watch it again and again. You blog is helping me become a better teacher.

  • Mike Wagner

    I was trained to always start by reading with the writer in mind. The technical term used in grad school for this was “authorial intent”.

    We often referred to the writer’s “most important idea” as “The Big Idea” of the author.

    Our goal was to state the Big Idea in a subject/complement form.

    Glad to see your students don’t have to wait till grad school to gain powerful reading strategies!

    Keep creating…practical surprise,

  • mrstg

    Thanks for sharing this lesson, Angela! I will definitely incorporate your four questions into my lessons. :-) Are those original to you, or did you find them elsewhere?

  • AngelaMaiers

    You made my day! You are a perfect reminder all learners do better, feel better, and perform better with a model. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for teaching and learning with me. And, definitely let me know how the lesson goes. i love seeing how teachers put their own “twists” on the conversation! Good luck!

  • AngelaMaiers

    That is so interesting. I never was taught to read this way in school, especially with informational texts. I read to memorized and remember the “facts” never once considering the intent of the author who selected and organized those facts to make a point.

    I love the possibilities of helping students from a young age consider and respond to the “authorial intent”- think how smart they will be by grad school!

  • AngelaMaiers

    MrsTg-Glad you like it! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the conversation! The lessons are mine, but open to great interpretation! I just try to enter the conversation as a reader first and share with students what I do to get to understanding.

    The best lessons come from the times we slow ourselves down and listen to the voice in our own heads as readers-right?

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