Summarizing text clearly is a demanding skill. Furthermore, writing effective summaries depends on identifying strong main ideas and details-- and those are challenging skills, too! Many activities that supposedly "teach" main idea and summarizing simply provide short paragraphs and ask students to find the main idea or write a summary without ever explaining quite how to do it.
This presentation provides specific, practical tips for students to use as they determine a passage's main, or central, idea. Additional tips are provided for selecting the essential details. Finally, main ideas and details can be combined into a smooth, well-written summary.
As a way to provide independent practice, this presentation refers to an online article about elephant poachers. Students are guided through the process of writing a summary of this brief, high-interest article, with possible responses suggested as they develop their own statements and summarize in their own words.
Note: Some educators point out a technical distinction between main ideas and central ideas: In general, fiction has main ideas while nonfiction (especially expository text) has central ideas. This presentation uses both terms somewhat interchangeably, since the process for finding main or central ideas is really the same regardless of genre.
This file can be helpful for a whole-class lesson or at a literacy center for individuals or small groups.
This resource is created by Stephen Campbell.