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Finding the Main Idea

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  • 1. Manipulating information: finding the main idea What's the most important thing?
  • 2. Nonfiction writers usually stick with one big idea per paragraph.
  • 3. The topic sentence usually comes first! MAIN IDEA supporting idea/proof supporting idea/proof supporting idea/proof
  • 4. There are several effective ways to get rid of zombie rodents. A zombie squirrel or rabbit is easily stopped by dropping a cardboard box over it and taking it to your the Federal Zombie Disposal Facility. Beavers, of course, will quickly gnaw through a cardboard box; you should use a metal garbage can instead. Zombie hamsters can be placed back into their Habitrails, while zombie sewer rats must have very tiny handcuffs placed on their wrists.
  • 5. The sport of twenty-meter freestyle skunk kicking was invented by mistake. On November 18, 1957, young Bob Flob was riding his bike home from a high school basketball game, followed closely by a rabid skunk that foamed at the mouth and nipped at his heels as he pedaled. When the animal bit through his bike tire, Flob decided that he had had enough. Leaping off his bicycle, he grabbed the skunk by the scruff of the neck, dropped it, and booted it through the air. The skunk yowled in pain and surprise as it sailed cleanly between two telephone poles. Several young children who had seen Flob make his kick decided to join in the fun. A new sport was born.
  • 6. The topic sentence sometimes comes last! supporting idea/proof supporting idea/proof supporting idea/proof MAIN IDEA
  • 7. First of all, Becky ruined my school picture by putting gum in my hair during first period. Then she splashed water on my pants and told everyone that I peed myself. During lunch, she took my tube of Pringles and licked each chip individually—who'd want to eat them after that? Finally, she stabbed me in the forehead with my pencil. There are obviously a million reasons why I won't invite Becky to my birthday party.
  • 8. Ways to find the main idea (in order of preference): Focus on the first sentence to see if it covers all the topics of the paragraph. Focus on the last sentence to see if it covers all the topics of the paragraph Count how many sentences are devoted to each topic. The one with the most sentences we will call the main idea.
  • 9. “He was just 5 feet tall but was a very impressive figure. Because he could not walk without guidance, he frequently carried a child upon his shoulders as a navigator. He had an astounding memory and was called a walking encyclopedia. He could remember people and tunes many years later—i.e., 30 years after he had met someone or had played a tune. He could tell a child's age by putting his hand upon a child's head. Boone had very happy and warm personality and children loved him—and he they. He would tell them stories. He had a great big pocket watch with a chime effect—children loved that. He belonged to fraternal organizations. His only family was his wife and his mother. His mother died in 1901.”
  • 10. fin