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Identify Main Ideas_Annotated


How can I find the main idea of what I read?
Learn to identify the main idea(s) of a piece of text.

Time To Complete 

4-6 Hours

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.10
  • CCRA.R.2

I Can Statements 

  • I can:
    • Determine what’s important in a text, and to whom, to clarify and extend my understanding of the text                          
    • Tell the difference between important and supporting ideas or information in a text
    • Find clues in the text that allow me to identify its central idea or question
    • Distinguish between ideas I think are important and ideas the author believes are important
    • Generate and articulate the specific criteria I use to identify the important ideas, patterns, or questions in a text
  • I will know my identification of main ideas is of high quality when it:
    • Accurately and completely reveals what is important to understanding a text

Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students, asking them to identify the main ideas or important details in the text and the criteria they used to identify them.
  • Ask students to self-evaluate their work after completing one of the activities below. 


Possible Activities 
  1. Model reading a text aloud, while displaying it to the students.  As you read, stop occasionally to identify the topic, and to think aloud about the different pieces of information that you have read so far, and think aloud about what’s most important, what’s a detail, and what can be synthesized into an overarching idea.  Be very specific about identifying the exact words in a text that let you know something is important, or that lets you group information together.

  2. Students should practice in groups and individually by reading texts and stopping periodically to identify the main idea.

    • In groups or individually, students should read short texts of a variety of genres, and should create a title for each text.  Then they should discuss their title choices and consider how and to what degree they capture the main idea of each text.
    • In groups, students read a short text together, and brainstorm a list of important topics, ideas, or themes that they notice.  Then, together, they should synthesize these thoughts into the main idea of the text.  They should present their findings to the larger class.
    • Students read a text individually, and record the main idea of each section in two-column notes.  When they are done, they should record the main idea of the entire text.
    • They should continue to practice until they are adept at finding the main idea.
  3. After several days of practice and once they have achieved mastery, students should annotate their chosen text with the main idea of each primary chunk of text, plus the entire text, in the style they have chosen for their performance task.

Downloadable Resources 
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