2. What is the BIG IDEA??
1. Define main idea and theme. (Is there any difference?)
Main idea is…
2. How do YOU (as a reader) find the main idea/ themes
within text? What are the specific steps involved in
getting to the BIG IDEAS? List and Discuss.
3. What do your students struggle with most when seeking
the BIG IDEAS in text at your grade level?
3. Harvard Report
Dr. Perry, Director of the Harvard Reading and Study Center
1500 first year college students-30 pg chapter from textbook
Task: Within 20 minutes, write a short statement on what the chapter was about
Outcome: 94.5% students scored well on multiple-choice test on detail
15 out of 1500 top first year college students:
– previewed section
– read headings
– understood and followed the writing/writer’s structure
– skimmed and analyzed visuals
– looked descriptive flags in the margin
– read end of the chapter summaries
– noted key points while reading-signal words and phrased
Major Conclusions: "obedient purposelessness" :
"an enormous amount of wasted effort" in most of first year students.
Students must be jarred out of this approach. This reading act requires self-
confidence, skill, intention, focus, and even courage, on the part of the student who
must decide for himself what to read or skip. Students MUST always ask
themselves what it is they want to get out of a reading assignment, then look
around for those key and important points.
5. Authors Decisions
• What do I know about, care about, or have researched enough about to
write down? (TOPIC)
• What is my goal in writing this information down? What do I want to
accomplish by writing this information down? (PURPOSE)
• Who would benefit from knowing these facts? (AUDIENCE)
• What would be the best way to share this information with my readers?
• How should I organize the information so the reader can easily read and
understand it? (STRUCTURE/ORGANIZATION)
• What can I do hook readers’ attention? (FEATURES/STYLE)
• How do I know this is my very best writing? (CRAFT/CREDIBILITY)
6. Today’s Goals and Agenda:
1. What is the main idea-EXACTLY?
2. Where is it located in fiction/nonfiction text?
3. What is it that we need to explicitly model and
demonstrate to students so they can find the
BIG IDEA on their own.
9. Main Ideas can be…
Stated: A stated main idea is a sentence found in the
reading passage which states the topic and the main point or
points being made about that topic. This sentence is referred
to as the TOPIC SENTENCE.
Implied: An implied main idea means that the author has
chosen not to use a statement in the selection or passage to
tell the reader the topic and main idea. The reader must read
the passage and determine the main idea from the information
that is presented. The READER is responsible for composing
a statement of the main idea. No topic sentence exists.
10. You, along with lions, goats, and bats
belong to a class called mammals. About
4000 species of mammals live here on
earth, and many look different from each
other. But, all mammals have certain
characteristics that set them apart from
other living things. Mammals are all warm
blooded and have fur or hair. They can
survive in cold places because of their
warm blood. Many believe that mammals
are the most intelligent animals on earth.
11. Four Steps to Discovering the
1. What is the topic of this passage?
2. What are the points made about this topic?
3. What point is the writer trying to prove or make?
State that point .
4. Does that statement represent the most important
thing the writer is saying about the topic?
12. L6: Topic Sentence
A reader can be sure they have found
the stated main idea if…
the sentence contains the topic
the sentence states the single most important point about the topic
the sentence is general enough to cover all the information in the
the other sentences explain or tell more about the main idea sentence
the sentence makes complete sense by itself
(the reader can comprehend the selection without reading the rest of
15. Ten Lessons to Support Reading for the Big Idea!!!
Lesson One: Defining Main Idea
Lesson Two: Exploring the Parts of a Paragraph
Lesson Three: Identifying Topic/Subject of the Writing
Lesson Four: Sorting Major/Minor Details
Lesson Five: Using Text Structure to Identify M.I.
Lesson Six: Looking for A Topic Sentence
Lesson Seven: Making Inferences from implied M.I.
Lesson Eight : Putting Author’s Point into your own words
Lesson Nine: Monitoring and checking for meaning using M.I. criteria
Lesson Ten: Exploring Differences in Location of Big Ideas across multiple
texts and genres
18. L3: Identify the TOPIC
The topic is identified as either a word or phrase which best
describes what the reading selection is about. The topic
should not be too broad (covering more than what is
discussed in the selection) or too narrow (not covering
everything discussed in the selection).
Q: "Who or what have I just read about?“
Clues for determining the topic of a selection:
A word, name, or phrase that appears as a heading or title.
A word, name or phrase that appears in special type such bold print, italics,
A word, name or phrase that is repeated throughout the paragraph.
A word, name, or phrase that may appear at the beginning of the paragraph
and is then referred to throughout the paragraph by pronouns (or other words).