Finding topics and_main_ideas_1

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  • This presentation is designed to help students find topics and main ideas. It is helpful to have students write down their answers and ideas throughout the presentation
  • Many students confuse the topic of a text with the main idea. It’s important to get topics well-taught so that they can see how topics and main ideas are different
  • Picture taken in New Hampshire. (I’ve found that adding some pictures really helps to keep my students engaged in the presentations!)
  • Students who do not have rich vocabularies often have trouble picking up on multiple referents.
  • For more on teaching students how to find main ideas, especially the implied main ideas, check out Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling by Emily Kissner. (Available on Amazon.com and from Heinemann)
  • Finding topics and_main_ideas_1

    1. 1. Finding Topics and Main IdeasTools for reading nonfiction
    2. 2. Finding Topics To understand a paragraph, it’s important to findthe topic The topic is the idea to which all of the details inthe paragraph refer A topic is usually expressed as a word or phrase
    3. 3. Can you find the topic?Water is an amazing resource. Everyone inthe world depends upon it. Every creatureneeds water to survive. Without water, wewould not last long. Water makes our worldbeautiful.
    4. 4. Can you find the topic?Water is an amazing resource. Everyone inthe world depends upon it. Every creatureneeds water to survive. Without water, wewould not last long. Water makes our worldbeautiful.Topic = WATER
    5. 5.  We could see that thetopic was water because itwas repeated again andagain This is a good way to helpus find a topic—lookingfor repeated words orphrases
    6. 6. Now try this one!Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to visit. InWilliamsburg, you can see how people lived incolonial times. There are guides in costumes whocan show you to taverns, shops, and houses. Youcan even sample some colonial food at the restoredtaverns! One visit to Williamsburg will make youfeel as if you have been transported to the 1700s.
    7. 7. Now try this one!Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to visit. InWilliamsburg, you can see how people lived incolonial times. There are guides in costumes whocan show you to taverns, shops, and houses. Youcan even sample some colonial food at the restoredtaverns! One visit to Williamsburg will make youfeel as if you have been transported to the 1700s.
    8. 8.  We could tell that thetopic of the paragraph isWilliamsburg because itwas repeated several times
    9. 9. Finding the topic The topic of a paragraph is not always repeatedover and over in the same way Sometimes, you need to look for multiple referents—that is, words or phrases that refer to the samething
    10. 10. Looking for multiple referentsHere is the Williamsburg paragraph again. Notice how Williamsburg can bereplaced by other words or phrases:Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to visit. In thisVirginia town, you can see how people lived in colonialtimes. There are guides in costumes who can show you totaverns, shops, and houses. You can even sample somecolonial food at the restored taverns! One visit to thisplace will make you feel as if you have been transportedto the 1700s.
    11. 11.  Williamsburg is referredto in several differentways This Virginia town andthis place both refer backto Williamsburg The topic is stillWilliamsburg
    12. 12. Look for the topic in this paragraphAssateague Island is a very special place. Along sandy beach stretches into the AtlanticOcean. Windswept dunes are home to foxes andseagulls. The famous wild horses, or ponies, alsolive on this small island.
    13. 13. Look for the topic in this paragraphAssateague Island is a very special place.A long sandy beach stretches into theAtlantic Ocean. Windswept dunes are hometo foxes and seagulls. The famous wildhorses, or ponies, also live on this smallisland.
    14. 14. Did you figure out the topic? Authors sometimes referto the same idea indifferent ways “Assateague Island” and“this small island” arereally the same place When you are trying tofigure out a topic, look fordifferent ways of sayingthe same thing
    15. 15. Using topics to find main ideas Once we have figured out the topic of a paragraph,we need to find the main idea The main idea is the main point of the paragraphMAIN IDEA = Topic + a statement about the topic
    16. 16. Can you find the main idea?Water is an amazing resource. Everyone inthe world depends upon it. Every creatureneeds water to survive. Without water, wewould not last long. Water makes our worldbeautiful.
    17. 17. Can you find the main idea?Water is an amazing resource. Everyone inthe world depends upon it. Every creatureneeds water to survive. Without water, wewould not last long. Water makes our worldbeautiful.
    18. 18. Did you find the main idea? The first sentence is themain idea Water is an amazingresource The topic = water The main point about thetopic = it’s an amazingresource
    19. 19. Now try this one!Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to visit. InWilliamsburg, you can see how people lived incolonial times. There are guides in costumes whocan show you to taverns, shops, and houses. Youcan even sample some colonial food at the restoredtaverns! One visit to Williamsburg will make youfeel as if you have been transported to the 1700s.
    20. 20. Now try this one!Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to visit. InWilliamsburg, you can see how people lived incolonial times. There are guides in costumes whocan show you to taverns, shops, and houses. Youcan even sample some colonial food at the restoredtaverns! One visit to Williamsburg will make youfeel as if you have been transported to the 1700s.
    21. 21. Did you find the main idea? Once again, the main ideawas in the first sentence Topic = Williamsburg Main point about thetopic= it’s a great place tovisit
    22. 22. Is the first sentence always the main idea? What do you think? Talk about it with yourpartner!
    23. 23. Think about this paragraphCroak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    24. 24. Is the first sentence the main idea?Croak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    25. 25. That doesn’t make sense! Croak, croak, kerplop!can’t be the main idea ofthe paragraph This sentence does notexpress a topic or a mainpoint about the topic
    26. 26. Let’s find the topic firstCroak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    27. 27. Let’s find the topic firstCroak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    28. 28. Let’s look at the second sentenceCroak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    29. 29. Is it the main idea? Do you think that thesecond sentence, What’sthat at the water’s edge?is the main idea? This doesn’t make senseeither. The paragraph isnot mostly about thewater’s edge
    30. 30. What about the third sentence?Croak, croak, kerplop! What’s that at the water’s edge?It might be a green frog, a creature that’s well-suited forlife at the pond’s edge. Green frogs like to live where theland meets the water. This keeps them safe from predatorsthat live on the land. When a predator like a snake comesnear, the green frog can quickly leap into the water and getaway. Green frogs can eat animals from both places,including crayfish, spiders, fish, and even birds.
    31. 31. Is it the main idea? Is the third sentence, Itmight be a green frog, acreature that’s well-suitedfor life at the pond’s edgethe main idea? This sentence includes theTOPIC (green frog) and amain point about the topic(it’s well-suited for life atthe pond’s edge)
    32. 32. Hooray! The main idea! As you can see, the firstsentence is not always themain idea To find the main idea, youneed to think about thetopic of the paragraph Look at each sentenceuntil you find the bestmain idea sentence
    33. 33. Now try this oneWhat a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Park is agreat place to see the Cumberland Valley. This isbecause the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.
    34. 34. How do we find the main idea? Start by finding the topic Then look at eachsentence in the paragraph Look for the sentence thatstates the topic and gives amain point about the topic Once you think you havefound it, match it againstthe rest of the sentences
    35. 35. Finding the topicWhat a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Parkis a great place to see the Cumberland Valley. Thisis because the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.
    36. 36. Finding the topicWhat a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Parkis a great place to see the Cumberland Valley. Thisis because the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.
    37. 37. Finding the topic The topic, then, is KingsGap State Park To find the main idea, weneed to understand whatthe paragraph is sayingabout Kings Gap StatePark
    38. 38. Let’s try the first sentenceWhat a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Parkis a great place to see the Cumberland Valley. Thisis because the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.
    39. 39. Not the main idea The first sentence, What agorgeous view, does notstate the main idea It does not state the topicof the paragraph
    40. 40. What about the second sentence?What a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Park isa great place to see the Cumberland Valley. This isbecause the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.
    41. 41. Better! The second sentence,Kings Gap State Park is agreat place to see theCumberland Valley,includes both a topic and amain idea Let’s see if all of the othersentences in the paragraphrelate back to it
    42. 42. Do the rest of the sentences relate?What a gorgeous view! Kings Gap State Park isa great place to see the Cumberland Valley. This isbecause the park was built on top of a mountain.From the mountain top, the fields and farms of thevalley stretch out far below. The Doubling Gap, amountain that curves like the letter s, can also beseen.The rest of the sentences do relate back to the second sentence.It’s the main idea.
    43. 43. What have we learned? What is the topic of a text?The topic is the word or phrase that all of thesentences in a paragraph refer toWhat is a main idea?The main idea of a paragraph is the topic, plusa feeling or attitude about the topic
    44. 44. What have we learned? Is the main idea of a paragraph always the firstsentence?No! Sometimes the main idea appears in other partsof the paragraphHow do we find the main idea?We need to think about the topic, and look for asentence that includes the topic plus a main pointabout the topic
    45. 45. Does every paragraph work like this?A. Yes! Every paragraph in the whole universe islike this and you will never have to think hardagainB. No, some paragraphs are different. Sometimesthe paragraph has the topic sentence at the end ofthe paragraph. Sometimes the author leaves outthe main idea altogether, and we need to figure itout
    46. 46. And the answer is… The answer, of course, is B While most paragraphs do have a stated main idea,some do not Sometimes this is because the author wants tomake the reader think more carefully (Dark secret) Sometimes it’s because the authorjust didn’t write the paragraph very well!
    47. 47. But these guidelines usually do work1. Find the topic of the paragraph2. See if the first sentence states the main idea3. If not, check other sentences in the paragraph4. Find the sentence that includes the topic andstates a main point about the topic5. Make sure that the other sentences in theparagraph relate back to the main idea
    48. 48. Fun stuff for the end…. Can you find the frog inthis picture?
    49. 49. Fun stuff for the end…. What about this one?
    50. 50. Reflect on what you’ve learned What have you learnedabout topics and mainideas?

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