Students identify and note relevant and irrelevant details in the life of Neeraj, a school girl in India. They use relevant supporting details to construct and defend a main-idea statement. Students then watch a second segment about moths and their attraction to light and work independently to identify the main idea and supporting details.
Why is this an important concept?
Identifying the main idea of a text encourages learners to synthesize the information and supporting details presented and to understand the underlying message or theme. It also helps readers remember important information.
- Details and the Main Idea handout
- Details and the Main Idea Assessment handout
- Chalk, blackboard and sticky notes
Part I: Learning Activity
1. Write the following sentences on the board:
- Playing on the beach can be fun.
- Lifeguards keep watch over swimmers.
- Some people just like to sunbathe.
- There are many things to do when you go to the beach.
- You can swim, snorkel, surf, or even just wade in the water.
2. Ask students to read the sentences and vote on which are supporting details, which is the main-idea statement and which are relevant and irrelevant. Ask why they made the decisions they did.
3. Distribute the Details and the Main Idea handout to each student. Tell the class they're going to watch a video segment about a girl from India called "Neeraj." As they are watching, they should record details about her day and lifestyle on the handout. Later, they will check the Relevant/Irrelevant columns; so they should leave those blank for now. Pause the segment from time to time to give students a chance to take notes. If students need help with note-taking, model the process using a transparency or other enlarged version of the handout.
4. After showing the segment, discuss Neeraj's routine. Ask students to review their notes and write what they think is the main idea of the story on the bottom of their handout. Then, they should check off the Relevant/Irrelevant columns for each detail.
5. Next, in small groups of four or five, students share main-idea statements. Show the video again, asking students to watch for the relevant supporting details and main idea. Afterwards, students discuss their thoughts in their groups.
6. Groups then try to come to a consensus for one main idea, write that main idea on a sticky note and give it to you. As you get sticky notes, write the statements on the board.
7. In a whole-class discussion, groups will defend their main-idea statements using relevant supporting details from their notes. They try to come to a consensus for one main idea. Erase all other statements from the board. Draw a spider web diagram to show which supporting details were relevant in supporting this main idea.For students who need additional teacher guidance:
- Spend extra time with groups that need more support during this activity.
- Ensure that all students have opportunities to share their opinions and thoughts within their groups. You may want to assign a group leader who is in charge of making sure everyone gets equal time to talk.
- Review note-taking strategies and skills.
- Provide writing assistance for note-taking during the video as needed.
Part II: Assessment
Students watch a second video called "Moths." They note details about the video as they watch. After viewing, students work independently to complete the Details and the Main Idea Assessment handout. Assess students' understanding of main ideas, supporting details, relevant details, and irrelevant details by determining if their main-idea statement is supported by relevant details and coincides with the video segment.