Why is MAIN IDEA so hard?

Teaching students to identify the main idea is such a tricky walk, because for our students, main idea is very ABSTRACT. What exactly is the difference between the main idea and details? In order to define this clearly for our students, we need to break it down into tiny little pieces. Students need to SEE it. I like to start with a visual. You can use a drawing of a pizza, fruit tray...I like to use a BIG SALAD. My MAIN IDEA salad. Each ingredient is a detail and the MAIN IDEA is how it all comes toether, the BIG SALAD. Just as we would not put chocolate chips into a salad, we would not expect to find a detail about dogs inside a passage about birds.
Next, I give students opportunities to MATCH details to other details in an effort to identify the MAIN IDEA. The more practice students get in matching details, the easier it will be for them to begin to see the pattern, the relationship between details and main idea. I like to start with a few funny examples. See below.
Here, the main idea might be something to the effect of "Harry is very sneaky." A 4th detail would be another sneaky behavior of Harry's. If you approach main idea slowly and deliberately, you can make it FUN and not painful for our students. Take the PAIN out of main idea!! Check out my digital resource for MAIN IDEA.

No comments