I stared across the desk at my student’s face. Tears began to well up in her big brown eyes and she refused to look at me. I knew she wasn’t understanding what the teacher had been trying to get her to do. I glanced down at the paper in front of her. It was full of marks and I could see that she had gotten most of the answers wrong. “I never get the main idea right,” she told me, “There are too many words.”
My heart broke for my sweet student that day. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to wade through the sea of new vocabulary and complex sentences to really comprehend a text. Then on top of that they have to generalize their ideas into a small summary that captures the main idea of what the story was about. I knew I needed to do my best at bridging that gap for her.
I created these graphic organizers to give my students more of a “formula” for finding the main idea. The more I studied the curriculum, I found that determining the main idea (or gist) of a narrative is a little different than finding the central message (or theme). An expository/informational text also requires a few different skills.
I also included guiding questions to help students come up with details that specifically support the main idea.
Now, these organizers may not be perfect for every single text, but we’ve been using them like crazy. I even gave them to my SPED teachers who absolutely loved them. You can grab your own set for FREE at my TPT store HERE. Hope these come in handy!
What do you think? Do your students have trouble finding the main idea too?