July 13, 2018
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By April Brown

Lesson plan

Main Idea and Details in Nonfiction Text

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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Main Idea or Topic? You Decide!Pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Main Idea or Topic? You Decide!Pre-lesson.

Students will be able to identify the main idea and details of a grade level text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Show students the cover of a nonfiction book with a simple topic (e.g. a book about bees, spiders, reptiles, or whales). Make sure the cover of the book has a picture of the topic that will be covered in the book.
  • Ask students to look at the cover of the book and then instruct them to close their eyes. Say, "I just showed you the cover of a nonfiction book. NonfictionBooks are about real topics! Now, I'm going to say three words. I want you to raise your hand when I say the word that you think matches the topic of the book." Then, for example, if you chose a book about spiders, your three words could be: bees, spiders, cats.
  • Record tally marks on the whiteboard that represent student responses. Clarify the correct answer and explain that the TopicOf a nonfiction book is a word or phrase. Explain that the topic of a nonfiction book can sometimes be found by searching for repeated words throughout the text or looking at the title of the book. Reinforce to students that they can also use pictures as clues to help them figure out the topic of a book.
  • Explain that today students will be learning how to identify the topic, main idea, and key details of a nonfiction text or book.
(20 minutes)
  • Draw a large circle on the board with three smaller circles underneath. Connect the circles with straight lines. This visual will act as a large graphic organizer. Write "Main Idea" in the large circle and "Detail" in each of the smaller circles.
  • Define main idea and details to the students by saying, "The Main ideaOf a nonfiction text can sometimes appear in the first sentence of the text. Other times, the main idea is harder to find and might appear as a sentence in the centre of a book. The Key detailsSupport the main idea by helping the reader to understand the main idea better. The key details can be words, phrases, and sentences that help you understand what the author is trying to say!"
  • Read aloud the simple nonfiction book you chose, and ask the students to think about what the main idea of the text is. Turn to the page in the book where you marked the sentence with the main idea and project it on the whiteboard. Reinforce that the main idea of the text is the main point the author is trying to tell the reader.
  • Record the main idea on the graphic organizer on the board.
  • Continue to explicitly model how to find the key details in the nonfiction book you selected, turning to the marked pages and showing students the specific sentences and phrases from the text. Record the key details on the graphic organizer on the board.
(15 minutes)
  • Project the Learning About the Ocean worksheet on the whiteboard.
  • Ask a volunteer to read the title of the text aloud. Ask the students to think about what the topic of the text will be, using the title for support. Explain that when a text doesn't have pictures, the title and repeated words throughout the text can usually be used to figure out the topic. Allow a couple of students to offer responses and explain that the topic of the text is the ocean.
  • Read through the text together as a class, and ask the students to think about what the main idea of the text is, finding a specific sentence in the text to support their answer.
  • Clarify any misunderstandings and have students highlight the main idea of the text, which is the first sentence of the text: "The ocean is important to all living things."
  • Ask a student to come up to the whiteboard to highlight where the topic sentence appears later in the text.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out three sticky notes to each student.
  • Explain to students that they will go back and reread the Learning About the Ocean text, searching for three key details that support the main idea they highlighted.
  • Tell students that they will write each key detail on one of the sticky notes and stick it in one of the key detail spaces on the bottom of their worksheet.
  • Have students describe how the key ideas relate to the main ideas in partners.
  • Rotate around the classroom and provide support as necessary.

Support:

  • Allow students to work with a partner during independent work time.

Enrichment:

  • Ask students to draw illustrations to connect with the main idea and the key details from the story.
(10 minutes)
  • Write the following questions on the board:
    • "How is the main topic of a nonfiction book or text different than the main idea?" Use ideas from today's lesson for support.
    • Explain one key detail you learned from the Learning About the Ocean text. "Why do you think the author included the key detail? How does it support the main idea?"
    • Name one strategy you can use to figure out the topic of a nonfiction text or book.
  • Read the questions aloud and pass out a sticky note to each student. Have students share their key details with their partner, record their answer, and stick it on the whiteboard.
(5 minutes)
  • Allow students to come up to the front of the classroom to share their answers.
  • Write the following prompt on the whiteboard and ask students to share a few questions they still have about finding the main idea and details in a nonfiction text: "I'm still wondering ____."
  • Record their answers on the whiteboard.

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