This week my major reading focus was on Main Idea. After deciding that what I did last year would simply not do, I went on a search for new ideas. I came across the best idea at the Little Literacy Learners blog. This wonderful gem gives you the instructions to do the lesson and the worksheet she used with it. I used this lesson to "introduce" main idea to my fifth graders. By fifth grade most students have a clue what main idea is, but have a terrible time identifying it in their reading. We did the lunch bag activity as a class. I also had several other bags made up. They then worked with partners to examine two other bags. After that I took it a step further and had the kids use their bag organizer to write a paragraph about the bag. Most students simply used the main idea as their topic sentence and the supporting details to create their other sentences. However, I had some who really got into the creative writing side. These students took the same main idea and supporting details and created a story about the day the bag was used. I was pleasantly surprised how creative some of their stories were.
The second Main Idea lesson I did was based off an idea I got from an anchor chart on Sub Hub. I designed a Main Idea House worksheet. The students then read a biography from our Social Studies textbook and had to complete the house. For the first house, I gave the students the main idea. They then had to read the text to find details that would support that main idea. This took some trial and error, but I think most of them caught on pretty fast. For the other three houses I gave the students the person's name and page number. My thought was that they would create their own main idea, and then list their details that support it. I quickly realized that they were nowhere near ready for this step. I will definitely do this activity again next year, but I will make sure to give them the main idea or use shorter passages so there is less information to sort through. Even though the lesson didn't quite go the way I wanted it to, I do feel like the kids are starting to grasp the concept. This looks like a topic I will need to revisit several times throughout the year.