Language Arts, Reading, Reading Comprehension
Grade 3- 5
Students read newspaper articles to determine the main idea of a story.
Finding Main Ideas
Writers Communicate with Readers
Writing is a form of communication. Writers, in other words, have something to say to readers. What the writer is talking about, the main point of what the writer is saying, is the main idea.
Without a main idea, nothing very much is said--nothing of importance, anyway. Think of someone chattering endlessly without really telling you anything. "Get to the point!" you say. Or, "What in the world are you talking about?" What you are asking for in such cases is the main idea of the conversation. If there is no main idea there is no real conversation. It is all small talk.
In good writing you shouldn't have to search for the main idea. A good writer makes the ideas jump out at you. Everything either points to the main ideas, leads up to them, or explains them.
Previews and Main Ideas
One reason that previewing is so useful is that it helps you find main ideas in your reading before you start to read. A headline and sub-headings often tell at a glance what the main ideas are. It isn't always that easy, but previewing will certainly provide clues to main ideas so that you know them when you see them.
Main Ideas and Details
Some people have trouble deciding what is a main idea in a piece of reading and what is a detail about a main idea. This should not be a big problem. Decide which sentence is the most important statement in a paragraph or in a group of paragraphs. What is the writer talking about?
Details explain a main idea. Details may be in the form of facts, explanations or descriptions. What is the following short article about? And what are some of the details?
It was a great day for the Clemson Tigers when they became college football's national champions. The big win came in Clemson's victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. This was the school's first national championship in 86 years of gridiron play.
The town of Concord is where they fired the shot "heard 'round the world." But the people of Concord have become fed up with guns, handguns at least. Concord has joined five other towns in an effort to ban ownership of pistols by private citizens.