Lesson Plan

Main Idea and Details

4th grade animal defense mechanisms
Debbie B.
Language Arts Coordinator
San Diego County Office Of Education
San Diego, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to...

  • identify important details
  • determine the main idea 
  • write a summary paragraph
English Language Arts
Grades 3 – 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook


This lesson is adapted from Engage NY.  The unit is introduced by having posters around the room with different animals (armadillo, opossum, butterfly, impala).  The question attached to each poster is, "Whan can you infer about animal defense mechanisms from this picture?"  

Student Instructions

In groups, students will carousel each poster.  They will use Lino to post observations.  When done, they will decide what all of the inferences have in common.

2 Direct Instruction

After having read the article, "Award-winning Survival Skills" once for a general understanding, the teacher will model with the Explain Everything app how to determine the main idea.  First, details from the Pufferfish section will be underlined and transferred to a premade t-chart.  After having completed the t-chart, a decision is made as to what the main idea is based on the details.  The main idea is written on the other side of the t-chart.  A summary paragraph is written using the information from the t-chart. Explain Everything demonstration lesson can be saved for students to be able to review at a later time.

Student Instructions

Students are wataching the short demonstration lesson.  They debrief steps to forming the main idea and details in groups.

3 Guided Practice

Teacher decides on groups of students to work together and creates a folder in Edmodo.  They work together to complete the graphic organizer of another animal in the article by identifying main idea, details, and summary paragraph and upload to Edmodo.

Teacher provides feedback, prompts and/or cues based on student need.

Teacher can choose to share the summary paragraphs after all groups are complete to demonstrate how the same information can be written in various ways.

Student Instructions

Students work collaboratively to complete assignment and upload to their Edmodo group folder.

4 Independent Practice

Depending on experience level of students, they can use Explain Everything to create a squenced steps of the process of determining main idea, details, and summary paragraph.  There is another app called bContext that can be used for the same purpose.  Or students can create a PowerPoint of the process.  It's beneficial to give student choice of how they would like to demonstrate their knowledge.

Student Instructions

Students use grpaphic organizer to identify details, determine the main idea, and write a summary paragraph on another animal of their choice from the article. They then have the option of what digitial tool they would like to use to publish their final product.