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Identify Main Ideas and Supporting Details

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The main idea is the most important element of a paragraph or selection. It is the focus of the text. Details are sentences that tell about the main idea. Details are “small pieces of information.” Facts are “small pieces of information” that can be proven true. Readers are able to determine the major points of information provided. They distinguish the relative importance of various pieces of information. Readers recall details from a selection, use details to visualize ideas, and use facts to support conclusions, predictions, and responses. Students collect details and facts that support main ideas. They identify details that reveal specific information.

Questions that help students identify main ideas and supporting details:

  • Based on the title, what do you think the article will be about?
  • What do you think is the BIG IDEA of this article? Of this paragraph?
  • What two words would you use to describe the “gist” of the paragraph? selection?
  • Which details helped you picture . . .?
  • What details from the selection support this hypothesis?
  • When students read, they think about what most of the sentences are describing. Is there one sentence that describes the main idea for this topic?
  • What was the focus of this reading selection?

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