Students’ age range: 14-16
Topic: Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills
Description: Introduce the topic of finding the main idea in a story by showing Reading Strategies. After watching, discuss what students learned about main ideas and supporting details. Ask them: What was the main idea of the pyramid segment? What are supporting details? How are they used in a story? Talk about books the students have read or movies they have seen in the classroom. What were the main ideas of these stories? What information did supporting details provide?
Read a news story to the class. First, ask students to listen for the main idea and supporting details. Discuss the story with the students. What was the main idea? What were some supporting details?
Divide students into small groups and give each one several newspapers. Tell students that they will choose at least four stories that everyone in the group will read. If newspapers are unavailable have students choose stories from the online news sources or from your newspaper's Web site. Explain to students that they should identify the main idea and at least two supporting details in each of the stories. Have students number and cut out the stories, and give each group member a different story to read; tell students to write the number and the story headline on their writing paper. Explain that students should write the main idea and at least two supporting details directly under the number and headline. Once students finish with their own story, have them switch with a member of their group and repeat the process. They will to repeat the process until all members of the group have read all four stories.
Hold a group discussion about the stories. Ask students to share some main ideas and supporting details. What kinds of information did they learn? If students identified different main ideas for the same story, have them explain their choice and ask the group to reread that particular story. Make sure all students have a firm understanding of a story's main idea.
Ask volunteers to share some information their group learned from reading the news stories. Talk about the stories and the main ideas. For stories that may have been particularly difficult to read or understand, read them aloud have the class try to identify the main ideas.