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Name that Main Idea

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Keywords: Main Idea, Writing Paragraphs, Document Camera
Subject(s): Information Skills, Spelling, Grammar, Writing, Reading, English/Language Arts
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
View Full Text of Standards
School: Fairborn Intermediate School, Fairborn, OH
Planned By: Rebekah Fultz
Original Author: Rebekah Fultz, Fairborn
Day 1:
1. Separate students into groups of no more than 4 students.
2. Take out a paper bag filled with items such as bows, ribbon, confetti, cake mix, wrapping paper, and icing. Pull out items one at a time. Set underneath the document camera. Ask students, "what do you think is the main idea of all the items in this bag?" Have students think about it, pair with each other, and then share out loud. Recap that the main idea of all of the items is "birthday."
3. Pass out a graphic organizer for main idea and supporting details. Model for students by filling in the items to represent the supporting details, and then have students fill in "birthday" for the main idea. Utilize the document camera to model for the class.
4. Use this graphic organizer to write a paragraph as a whole class using the main idea as the topic sentence and closing sentence, and the details as the main body. Utilize a document camera to model for the class.
5. Challenge each group to come up with their own main idea in which other groups will have to guess utilizing their items as the supporting details. Give groups time to come up with their ideas, and have them check it with the teacher. For example, if a group came up with the topic of Video Games, then students would need to collect items in their home that represents this like a game controller, game, etc. If there are repeating topics, have groups come up with a new idea. Students go home that evening to collect items to bring to class to put in their paper bag.

Day 2:
1. Review yesterday's lesson using the main idea in a bag, graphic organizer and paragraph. Have students repeat and write down the lesson's objective: I can identify the main idea and supporting details.
2. Give groups of students time to organize their materials and place into a grocery paper bag.
3. Have groups come up to the document camera one at a time to show the class their items, and place the items underneath the document camera. Each group will ask their classmates to guess their main idea. Repeat with all groups.
4. Pass out a new graphic organizer and paper for their paragraphs to each group. Have each group fill out their graphic organizer and paragraphs for their own main idea and supporting details.
5. One at a time, have groups bring up their graphic organizers and paragraphs to the document camera. Groups will explain their work to the class.
6. Have a class discussion over each group's work using the sandwich feedback technique. Peers first find things that they like about their work, then give critical feedback, and then end by finding other positive things to say.
7. To assess their ability to create a paragraph using the main ideas and supporting details, pass out a graphic organizer already filled in with information. Have students individually write a paragraph utilizing this information. Ask students to write down the I can statement on the back of the page, and self-evaluate their understanding of what a main idea and supporting details are. Utilize this information to gather feedback to facilitate further learning. If students are ready, the next day, you can provide a close reading activity that requires students to find the main idea and supporting details in a provided paragraph.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Utilize science and social studies passages for close reading exercises, or develop a list of topics for groups of students for their main idea items.
The next day, you can provide a close reading activity that requires students to find the main idea and supporting details in a provided paragraph.
Materials: Projectors, Worksheets, Integrating Technology
Other Items: 1 Document Camera, $95.00 each, total of $95.00