This writing and reading topic is a necessary one - very important for all students. Every year, when creating my lessons in main idea I call on an old favorite of mine – bringing in a guest teacher, “MI”. This character (that I become instantly after dramatically turning around) talks different, acts different and helps gets the point across. MI talks makes a statement about the topic (s)he wants to talk about and then asks the kids to come up with reasons why (s)he made that statement.
For example, if MI says “Dogs are great pets!” one student may give a reason (a supporting detail SD), "They look like they are listening to you when you talk." Another student may state, "They meet you at the door when you come home," and yet another may say, "You can teach them to do tricks."
As each student says their SD, they then join MI by holding up (supporting) MI’s limbs. Starting with one arm, the other arm and then, yes, a leg, my students actually support parts of me as we go around the room reciting our main idea and details. The kids love this!
As a follow up, we review what was created by writing down each statement on a graphic organizer. Then we either create another walking MI with three SDs or turn to the paper and write down our own main ideas and details for a different topic. If we are studying responsibility, I use that topic. Other topics may include those from science or social studies units. All the while our "guest teacher" remains in the room to assist with students' papers.
At the end of the lesson, MI says good-bye and I take a final turn and go back to regular, old Mrs. Peterson. I always like this part of the lesson when I can ask the students to tell me about their guest teacher. Undoubtedly, my students (who are obviously on to my trickery), always ask for more, “When is MI coming back?" Sometimes she makes a short appearance in later days!
In the days and weeks following, I often refer back to MI and the SDs. My kids smile as they remember how Johnny had to hold up MI's leg after stating a supporting detail.
This fun and dramatic way of introducing or reinforcing the concept of main idea brings ideas alive, giving a little more life to this lesson. It helps students to gain a deeper understanding of the concept of main idea and supporting details. I can guarantee that my students remember MI for years!