Teaching main idea and details with pictures
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Teaching Main Idea to All of Your Learners
Many elementary students struggle with finding the main idea of a passage. Now that the Common Core State Standards have been implemented in most schools, it is imperative that students are able to identify the main idea and supporting details in a passage. Here are a few ideas, tips , and activities to help you teach students to identify the main idea of a story and the details that support it. Teaching the main idea should be a process that spans a few weeks. Start simple by having students identify the main idea of a category. Choose categories with things like vegetables , fruits, things you wear, automobiles.
Sometimes I recommend products using affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I may be compensated at no cost to you. Teaching main idea to my 3rd graders was always a frustrating experience because it is such a confusing and difficult skill. The curriculum my district used was no help — it introduced main idea by having students read a fictional story from our textbook about 15 pages long and fill out the main idea and supporting details in a blank graphic organizer together while we were reading. The students were magically supposed to understand main idea after this one activity.
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Determining the main idea, is a skill that some students acquire much easier than other students. It can also be a challenging skill to introduce to students and support them to successfully grasp.
I chose a photo of astronomers engaged in their practice. This prompt gets at a possible main idea for this photo or a message the photographer wanted to convey. See the image below. As students shared the details they thought revealed what the astronomers do to learn, I wrote notes on the chart paper under the prompt. Provide a main idea statement and elicit a supporting idea from the students. Eventually, you want students to work on identifying a main idea conveyed in the photo—in small groups or on their own. Then ask them to talk with a partner about a supporting detail they will use in their own sentence.