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Lesson 19 - Identifying Topics, Main Ideas and Supporting Details

Used in Developmental Reading Class.
Includes Take Off/Motivation Activities, Discussion on the Paragraph, Main Idea, Topic Sentence, Tips from Reading Resources, and some activities for practice.

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Lesson 19 - Identifying Topics, Main Ideas and Supporting Details

  1. 1. IDENTIFYING TOPICS, MAIN IDEAS, AND SUPPORTING DETAILS LESSON 19
  2. 2. TAKE OFF Title of the Article Name of the newspaper Author of the article What the article is all about What’s interesting about the article Your comments Work in small groups and exchange articles culled from newspapers. Read the articles and tell what they are about. Use the guide below.
  3. 3. • What is the article about? • Who/what are involved? • Did you have difficulty identifying what the article is about? • What details are provided to support the topic of the article?
  4. 4. Paragraph •is a group of sentences related to a particular topic, or central theme. •Every paragraph has a key concept or main idea which is considered the most significant piece of information the author wants to convey, as regards the concept of the Main Idea •Is the “key concept” being expressed by the text or paragraph. •Is the most central piece of information the author wants you to know about the concept of that paragraph. •It tells the topic of the paragraph. •Topic – the broad, general theme or message; tells what most or all the sentences are about. •Details – describe or explain the main idea. It can be a major or minor detail and supports the main idea by telling how, when, where, why, how much, or how many.
  5. 5. Topic Sentence • The sentence in which the main idea is stated • It can be found at the beginning of the paragraph, in the middle, or at the end, • Sometimes, the main idea is not implied or not overly stated. You have to analyze the paragraph carefully so you can identify what it is about.
  6. 6. Tips from Reading Resources •Tip #1: As soon as you can define the topic, ask yourself “What general point does the author want to make about this topic?”, “What is this paragraph about?” •Tip #2: Most main ideas are stated or suggested early on in reading; pay special attention to the first third sentence of the passage, article, or chapter. That is where you are most likely to get the best statement or clearest expression of the main idea. •Tip #3: Pay attention to any idea that is repeated in different ways. If an author returns to the same thought in several different sentences or paragraphs, that idea is the main or central thought under discussion.
  7. 7. Cont’d Tips from Reading Resources • Tip #4: Once you feel sure you have found the main idea, test it. Ask yourself if the examples, reasons, statistics, studies, and facts included in the reading lend themselves as evidence or explanation in support of the main idea you have in mind. If they do, your comprehension is right on target. If they don’t, you might want to revise your first notion about the author’s main idea. • Tip #5: The main idea of a passage can be expressed any number of ways. When you are asked to find the topic sentence, you are being asked to find the statement that expresses the main idea in the author’s words. Any number of people can come up with the main idea for a passage, but only the author of the passage can create the topic sentence.
  8. 8. Cont’d Tips from Reading Resources •Tip #6: If you are taking a test that asks you to find the thesis or theme of a reading, don’t let the terms confuse you, you are still looking for the main idea.
  9. 9. “Environmental education has been considered an additional or elective subject in much of traditional K-12 curriculum. At the elementary school level, environmental education can take the form of science enrichment curriculum, natural history field trips, community service projects, and participation in outdoor science schools. In secondary school, environmental curriculum can be a focused subject within the sciences or is a part of student interest groups or clubs. At the undergraduate and graduate level, it can be considered its own field within education, environmental science and policy, ecology, or human/cultural ecology programs.” 1. Which is the topic sentence? •Sentence #1 2. What is the topic of the paragraph? •The paragraph talks about Environmental Education as an additional subject in the curriculum. 3. What supports the topic sentence? •There are environmental education activities that students can do as part of the curriculum. 4. What specific details or examples are given? •science enrichment curriculum, natural history field trips, community service projects, and participation in outdoor science schools, as a separate course. 5. What is the main idea of the paragraph? •Environmental Education cuts across year levels.
  10. 10. You must also realize that you read texts that are longer than a single paragraph. These longer writings contain three types of paragraphs: introductory, transitional, and summarizing. • Introductory Paragraphs tell you, in advance, such things as (1) the main ideas of the chapter or section; (2) the scope, extent or limits of the coverage; (3) how the topic is developed; and (4) the writer’s attitude or stance about the topic. • Transitional Paragraphs are usually short, their sole function is to glue or tie together what you have read so far and what is to come, and to set the stage for the succeeding ideas of the chapter or section. • Summarizing Paragraphs are used to restate briefly the main ideas of the chapter or section. The writer may also draw conclusions from these ideas, or speculate, conjecture, on some conclusion based on
  11. 11. TASK 1: Read the following paragraphs and identify the main idea. Write the supporting details, too. Use your own words in stating the minor details. PARAGRAPH 1 “The rules of conduct during an examination are clear. No books, calculators, or papers are allowed in the test room. Proctors will not allow anyone with such items to take the test. Anyone caught cheating will be asked to leave the room. His or her test sheet will be taken. The incident will be reported to the proper authority. At the end of the test period, all material will be returned to the proctor. Failure to abide by these rules will result in a failing grade for this test.” - Cuesta College Topic: ____________________________________________________________________ Supporting Details: ____________________________________________________________________ Main Idea: ____________________________________________________________________
  12. 12. PARAGRAPH 2 “Learning how to turn in homework assignments on time is one of the most valuable skills that college students can take with them into the working world. Thought the workforce may not assign homework to its workers in the traditional sense, many of the objectives and jobs that need to be completed require that employees work with deadlines. The deadlines that students encounter in the classroom may be different in content with compared with the deadlines of the workforce, but the importance of meeting hose deadlines is the same. In fact, failure to meet the deadlines in both the classroom and the workforce can have serious consequences. For example, in the classroom, students form a contract with the teacher and the university when they enroll in a class. That contract requires that the students complete the assignments and objectives set forth by the course’s instructor in a specified time to receive a grade and credit for the course. Accordingly, just as a student risks failing in the classroom if he/she does not meet the deadline for a homework assignment, so, too, does that student risk termination in the workforce. When a student fails to complete assignments, by the deadline, the student breaks his/her contract with the university and the teacher. This often leaves the teacher with no other recourse than to fail the student and the university with no other recourse than to deny the student credit for the course. Developing good habits of turning in assignments now will aid your performance as a future participant in the working world.” - Metta Forum Topic: ____________________________________________________________________ Supporting Details: ____________________________________________________________________ Main Idea: ____________________________________________________________________
  13. 13. PARAGRAPH 3 “Scientists have learned to supplement the sense of sight in numerous ways. In front of the tiny pupil of the eye they put, on Mount Palomar, a great monocle 200 inches in diameter, and with it see 2000 times farther into the depths of space. Or they look through a small pair of lenses arranged as a microscope into a drop of water or blood, and magnify by as much as 2000 diameters the living creatures there, many of which are among man’s most dangerous enemies. Or, if we want to see distant happenings on earth, they use some of the previously wasted electromagnetic waves to carry television images which they re-create as light by whipping tiny crystals on a screen with electrons in a vacuum. Or they can bring happenings of long ago and far away as colored motion pictures, by arranging silver atoms and color-absorbing molecules to force light waves into the patterns of original reality. Or if we want to see the center of a steel casting or the chest of an injured child, they send the information on a beam of penetrating short-wave X rays, and then convert it back into images we can see on a screen or photograph. Thus, almost every type of electromagnetic radiation yet discovered has been used to extend our sense of sight in some way. - George Harrison, “Faith and the Scientist”Topic: ____________________________________________________________________ Supporting Details: ____________________________________________________________________ Main Idea: ____________________________________________________________________
  14. 14. PARAGRAPH 4 “I don’t wish to deny that the flattened, minuscule head of the large-bodied “stegosaurus” houses little brain from our subjective, top-heavy perspective, but I do wish to assert that we should not expect more of the beast. First of all, large animals have relatively smaller brains than related, small animals. The correlatives of brain size with body size among kindred animals (all reptiles, all mammals for example) is remarkably regular. As we move from small to large animals, from mice to elephants or small lizards to Komodo dragons, brain size increases, but not so fast as body size. In other words, bodies grow faster than brains, and large animals have low ratios of brain weight to body weight. In fact, brains grow only about two-thirds as fast as bodies. Since we have no reason to believe that large animals are consistently stupider than their smaller relatives, we must conclude that large animals require relatively less brain to do as well as smaller animals. If we do not recognize this relationship, we are likely to underestimate the mental power of very large animals, dinosaurs in particular.” - Stephen Jay Gould, “Were Dinosaurs Dumb?” Topic: ____________________________________________________________________ Supporting Details: ____________________________________________________________________ Main Idea: ____________________________________________________________________
  15. 15. PARAGRAPH 5 “The activity in the pueblo reached a peak on the day before the Feast of San Diego, November twelfth. It was on that day, an especially brilliant day in which the winter held off and the sun shone like a flare, that Jemez became one of the fabulous cities of the world. In the preceding days the women had plastered the houses, many of them, and they were clean and beautiful like bone in the high light; the strings of chilies at the vigas had darkened a little and taken on a deeper, softer sheen; ears of colored corn were strung at the doors, and fresh cedar boughs were laid about, setting a whole, wild fragrance on the air. The women were baking bread in the outdoor ovens. Here and there men and women were at the woodpiles, chopping, taking up loads of firewood for their kitchens, for the coming feasts. Even the children were at work: the little boys looked after the stock, and the little girls carried babies about. There were gleaming antlers on the rooftops, and smoke arose from all the chimneys. - The Names: A Memoir by N. Scott Momaday Topic: ____________________________________________________________________ Supporting Details: ____________________________________________________________________ Main Idea: ____________________________________________________________________

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