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Identify Main Idea

Shift the focus from identifying and summarizing the main idea to organizing this information in meaningful ways. Use graphic organizers to assist in this work.

Young people need to be able to grasp the meaning of nonfiction resources through recalling, summarizing, and explaining.

Key words: arranges, classify, converts, defines, describes, duplicates ,estimates, explains, extends, gives examples, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states, paraphrases, rewrites, report, review, summarizes, translates.

Focus on topics related to the social studies, science, math, or art curriculum.

Provide scaffolding to help students with organizing their main ideas. Inspiration and Kidspiration provide lots of templates to get students started.

Main Idea and Book Covers

Elementary. After reading a book, ask students to design their own book cover.

Elementary After reading a nonfiction website, create a book cover and table of contents.

Scientists and Main Idea

Use resources related to science to help young people identify the main idea in their reading.


Tracking TrashFocus on Book Covers: Examining book covers is a great way to help young people understand "main idea."

Focus on Science Tradebooks. Create a student starter such as Scientists in the Field Series (PPT). Use the Scientist Empty (PPT) document. Use the Trash project (PPT) as an example.

Trash PPT

Focus on Scientists: You can find many places that contain multiple biographies and articles.


Science Concepts and Main Idea

Clarify Main Idea

History and Main Idea

DeclarationDeclarationWe the Kids


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