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Archive for November, 2013

postheadericon Teaching Main Idea- A quick and easy teacher table activity


We just taught Main Idea in the First Grade as part of our Reading Street Program. 

Today, I chose to use word cards to teach this lesson. I chose "Pilgrims" and "Mayflower."  We have been reading and talking about the Pilgrims and how they came to the New World, so I thought it would be fun to use these words today. 

I asked the students about the Pilgrims and about the Mayflower. Could we make a sentence using both words? They all agreed that the words went together well because the Pilgrims sailed to the New World on the Mayflower. 


I downloaded these word cards from CLICK HERE to get these cards for FREE!

So, on my pocket chart, I had the words "Main Idea" and I had the word "Detail."

I had explained at my teacher table the day before that main idea is what the story is mostly about and the details are small pieces of information that supports the main idea. 

The students agreed that Pilgrims were the main idea and Mayflower was a detail. 

So, I had a student help me place the words under the correct category. This is what is looked like in my pocket chart:

photo copy 4

Now, that we had the main idea and detail, we were ready to write a sentence using our two word cards. 

I aksed the students to verbally create a sentence using the two words. My students easily told me "The Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower." Yes, they are correct!

I gave each student a piece of writing paper and I wrote the sentence on the board. The students copied the sentence onto their paper. I asked the students to underline the main idea. They knew to underline "Pilgrims." I told them they were all correct. Why is the main idea Pilgrims? "It's what the sentence is about!" I have them put a MI (main idea) on top of "Pilgrims." I also explained this was the suject of their sentence. 

So, now we move onto the detail… sailed on the Mayflower is a detail about the Pilgrims. They all underline that detail. I have them put a D for detail on top of their words. We talk about how this is the predicate of their sentence. It gives us information about the subject. 

I go onto explain the Main Idea is the subject in a sentence and the detail is the predicate in their sentence. Writing is as easy as that! 

When we were done, their work looked like this: 

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We had a few minutes left, so I put the students in partners and gave each pair of students two word cards to put together. They practiced main idea and detail by creating sentences with their partners. They thought it was fun and asked me to make more word cards for them to "play" with. Anytime! I love when kids want to "play" with words! 

They will see these "fun" word cards again next week in their independent center! 


postheadericon Happy Thanksgiving!




Thank you to all educators who make a difference in chilldren's lives each and every day! 



postheadericon Main Idea and Details

SONY DSCThis is where I left off in the last post on Teaching Topic and Main Idea Once you have discussed topic and main idea and your students have had practice, it is then time to introduce details. 

I begin by drawing the above flow chart on the white board or chart paper.  We then discuss the ways that we can take care of our teeth including the "tools" we use.  I tell the students that these things we use/tools are the details of our main idea.  I branch out from main idea by drawing 4 boxes coming from the "I can take care of my teeth" box. You can do this any way that works for you.


Practice continues with the teacher providing a topic and main idea for the students to figure out which is which.  We complete a sample main idea web together on chart paper. Bellow is a sample of what I draw as a visual web.
I then have the students practice by filling in a main idea web of their own.  Students draw 4 details to match the main idea provided.  As a workstation that week, the students label (below level group) or write sentences (on and above level groups) explaining their detail drawings. In partners, students explain the main topic, main idea, and details.
This now becomes an on-going workstation that can be done as a read for meaning station or as a writing station.  It depends on whether you are looking to practice with text or a piece of writing.

postheadericon Ten Important Sentences


As we are getting further along into the year, I am looking to increase the rigor in the workstations for my yellow and blue groups. Last year, I tried a few different ways of using Reading Street's "Ten Important Sentences," but couldn't quite figure out the best way to use them in a center.  I tried cutting them out into strips, then having the students put them in order and then write them in their writing notebooks.  However, by the time they put them in order their center time was almost over and they did not have time to record them on paper.  This made it difficult for me to check their work, so I started thinking of different ways I could use the sentences in our reading block.  

I recently made these documents for the end of Unit 1 and start of Unit 2, and I am hopeful that they will be the solution I need for a more rigorous workstation! (Answer keys included!)

Animal Park (unit 1.6): 



A Big Fish For Max (unit 2.1):



The Farmer in the Hat (unit 2.2): 



Students can use these in the following way:

1.  Students should first read the story that aligns with the Ten Important Sentences.

2. Starting from the beginning of the story, students should read each sentence from the book, then locate it in the "10 Important Sentences" worksheet. Each time they locate a sentence, they record a number on the worksheet (starting with #1, ending with #10), until all of the boxes are filled in.

3. Finally, students can do one of two things:

  • Students cut out each square, put them in order, and staple them together to make their own book.
  • Students use their writing notebooks and record the sentences in order. Since they are already numbered on their worksheet, they can always continue this activity the following day in a center right from where they left off!


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