Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's been a minute...

or a month... anyways. I have a lot of things I want to share with you all that we have been doing in my class, but I have been so drained that I haven't had time. Today, I am making it a priority because we have done two awesome lessons in the past couple weeks (ok maybe more than 2.. but 2 that I actually took pictures of) and I want to share how amazing they went. So first up... we learned about Main Idea.. dun dun dunnnnnn

Yes, main idea. Usually makes me want to pull my hair out. But so far, I haven't wanted to...not too much anyways. You can see one of my lessons from last year here. (Disclaimer that post was NOT the first time my kids had worked with main idea.) The "don't give the ending away" activity worked so well last year that I decided to give it a whirl this year. And O.M.G. THAT was a flop! I thought for sure this was going to be an awful week. But I was wrong and I ended up being so proud of my kids during the first week of learning main idea, I thought you might want to know what we did.

Let's start with the typical problem.... the title of the passage or story is given... and students automatically tell me that is the main idea. For example, we read a passage about adaptations, titled Adaptations. Usually kids would tell me the main idea of the passage is adaptations. I think we FINALLY broke away from that. And a friend of mine told me this little trick... if students tell me the topic (adaptations) as the main idea, ask them what the author is trying to tell you about adaptations. Simple I know, but something I never thought of for some reason.

So, I decided we were doing things a little different this year. I started by making an anchor chart with the class (I had the cutesy stuff prewritten) and we talked about WHAT the main idea means and how to figure it out, using strategies.
 Then I had random pictures of transportation methods on the board (without the bubble map). We looked at and talked about each picture. I had students discuss with their groups what I could be trying to tell them by showing them all these pictures. They came up with "there are many ways to travel". Once we got the main idea I had them PROVE that statement by giving me details (the outside of the bubble map).
 The last thing we did that day was to try to figure out the main idea of the story we read the week before. (Please excuse my vowel letters in the middle of the bubble map, we were using every inch of space on the board that week!) We did the same thing: students discussed with their groups to come up with the main idea. Then each group had to come up with one detail for the main idea. (We were more focused on JUST the main idea this week, but we did details too.)
The next day we read a nonfiction passage from Tracy's amazing nonfiction passages! Our story for this week was Penguin Chick, so I chose to use the passage about penguins. It was a nice lead in to our story and helped give my lower kids some background information for when we read the story.
 THIS is where it got fun. Seriously- the kids LOVED this next part. Each group worked together trying to come up with the main idea. We wrote the four different ideas on the board. Students then had to try to figure out which one was the DEFINITE answer. We quickly narrowed it down to two (throwing in those test taking strategies here). They were torn between 1 and 4. So, I made them dig deeper and prove why one was definitely correct and one was not 100% correct.
 The groups had to go back into the passage and find evidence for their chosen answer. Can I just say how proud I was when ALL of my groups figured out that choice 1 wasn't right because the article mentioned how the dads helped take care of the penguin chicks too?! I was thrilled! We did this again with other nonfiction passages about penguins throughout the week. I honestly think this is the best any of my classes have EVER done with main idea. And on our weekly common assessment (all 3rd graders take a test on the skill for the week) I made my goal for the first time this whole year in reading! (We are given a goal from the school for how many kids need to pass and I have always been a few kids away. But this time, we made it!)

I hope this gives you some ideas of things to do for main idea!


  1. I love this lesson! I think proving why something is NOT right is so helpful in letting kids see what IS right. My 5th grade group is still struggling with main idea, so I'll have to borrow this :)

    So glad I'm not the only one who ends up with all sorts of random charts and writing all over the board some days! It just shows how much different learning we do in one day!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  2. Thank you for the great ideas! It is so tricky to keep up with other activities once the school year starts, I appreciate you taking the time to share this with us!


  3. Your main idea bubble map looks very familiar! We happened to just finish reading "What About Me?" in our classroom earlier today. Fun to see where other classrooms are in relation to my own :)
    Love your main idea anchor chart!

    Rooting for Third Grade


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...