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Expository Text: Main Ideas Anchor Chart & our upcoming plans for third grade!

Main Idea is really hard. For third and fourth graders, anyway, it can be a challenge. Once, my class and I were reading a short text about Abraham Lincoln. It gave details about how he had to walk miles to school, when there was a school, and how he did his reading by candlelight. He had to chop firewood and do all sorts of difficult things to survive as a kid. 
As we were reading this, I could see how the students were reacting. “Wow,” they were thinking. “Harsh.”
So when I asked for the main idea, I was a little surprised at the idea they came up with. 
“Life was hard in the 1980s.”
WHAT?! Ummm…. yeah, but not as hard as it was in the 1800s! 
Anyway, kids are goofy, so something we think they’re getting the big idea, but they’re missing an important piece of their comprehension. Like the century or something. 
To help students with main idea, we planned out a few lessons that we think will scaffold their learning. We’re starting off with a hands-on activity like this one from Super Second Grade
Basically, students in groups get a bag with several items all connected to one idea. They have to identify the supporting details and then put them together to make a main idea. 
Teachers will use the understanding students acquired through this activity to make this anchor chart:

Then, we’ll practice identifying the main ideas of an article. Teachers are going to use the Bamboo Bears article from the Austin ISD Language Arts Resources site as a source of text. The teacher will white out the subheading for each section and have students use the details in the section and the repeated ideas to create the main idea statement, or a new subheading.

Afterwards, they can check it against the original subheadings! It’s a fun and engaging way to practice identifying the main idea!

To teach main idea using the gradual release model, check out my Reading Strategy Miniack: Main Ideas.
We’re going to follow up with some tools from my Nonfiction Pack to help kids practice main idea in a variety of ways: sorting, graphic organizers, foldables, and more! Get all 65+ pages on sale this week for 5.00 on TPT!

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