Rationale: As students move into the upper primary grades and beyond, they are faced with more expository text that contains unfamiliar concepts and new vocabulary. In order to better understand these concepts, they must develop and apply comprehension strategies that would allow them to generate the main idea of texts. The goal of this lesson is to teach students how to generate and identify the main idea through question-answer. Students will use the five W's (What, Where, When, Who and Why) to help them focus on the revelant information to find the main idea.
Copied transparency of the chapter being studied.
Chalkboard and chalk
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
1. Today we will be learning a strategy that would help us to better understand what we are reading. Its called finding the main idea. Everything the author writes is to explain or support a main idea. A main idea is the single most important thing that is being said or written about a topic.
4. Now I will put a paragraph from your science book on the overhead, and I would like everyone to read to silently. Then we will examine the information given in each sentence to find the main idea. (Use transparency and model.)
5. The heavy rainfall in April 1999, which measured 14 feet, caused flooding in low lying areas. The lowlands of Florida was under 6 feet of water. People were forced to higher grounds. It caused severe damage to the oranges crops that year. Houses in and near these flooded lowland areas were washed away by the water from the rain. (Note to teacher: Walk students through the paragraph ask questions to help them pull out relevant information in a hierarchal order then have then summarize these bits of information to generate a main idea.)
6. Next I want everyone to take out your Discover Science book and turn to chapter 4. We would each spend some time reading the first five paragraphs silently. (Model reading silently at your desk and give a specific amount of time.)
7. On the overhead, display the first paragraph and cover the others.
8. Have the students reread the paragraph and write a summary in 20 words or less. (These should be individual summaries.)
9. With chalk, write 20 blanks on the chalkboard. Then ask individual students to read and explain their summary.
10. After you have gotten a few responses, ask the students to use what they have just heard and what they have written to generate a class summary to fill in the blanks on the chalkboard. (Give students a few minutes to think.) Then record responses in blanks. Reread the information on the chalkboard to see if it truly sums up the paragraph.
11. Uncover the second paragraph and have students generate another summary that encompasses both the first and second paragraph. (Repeat step #8, 9, and 10)
12. Continue this procedure paragraph by paragraph until students have produced a summary of all five paragraphs.
Assessment: Ask students to continue generating summaries for the rest of the chapter. Then use all these individual summaries to find the main idea of the chapter. Walk around and examine their summaries. Use question-answer to break down or get rid of redundant or trivial information.
References: Pressley, Michael, et al. “Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.” Elementary School Journal, 90 (1989).
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