Lesson Plan

What's the Big Idea?

Identifying Main Ideas and Supporting Details in Nonfiction Texts
Matt H.
Instructional Technology Integrator
North Allegheny School District
Pittsburgh, PA
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

In this lesson students will be able to indentify the main idea and find supporting details within a nonfiction text. This lesson uses nonfiction texts at various lexile levels to provide differentiation to all learners. Furthermore, in order to show mastery of the learning objectives, students will construct a nonfiction writing sample that has a main idea and supporting details.


Students will be able to...

1. Find the main idea in a nonfiction text.

2. Provide supporting details for the main idea by returning to the text.

3. Create their own nonfiction writing that establishes a main idea and provides supporting details.

English Language Arts
Grades 5 - 7
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook-Intro to Main Idea

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Introduce "Main Idea" of a text to students using this video. Play the video for the students and then have a class discussion identifying answers to the two following questions:

  1. What is main idea?
  2. What are supporting details?
Student Instructions

Students should watch the music video keeping in mind the two questions that will be used to hold class discussion:

  1. What is main idea?
  2. What are supporting details?

2 Whole Group-Direct Instruction

Select 1 article to read and identify main ideas/supporting details with the entire class.

As the entire class is reading the article, the teacher should identify/have students identify the main idea and supporting details of the text.

The teacher should highlight where supporting details can be found in a text. For example: Topic sentences, conclusion sentences, etc.

Student Instructions

The students will find the main idea and supporting details of a text. They will highlight the supporting details and come to a conclusion of what the main idea of the text is.

Students should discuss with classmates and the teacher how they can use supporting details to identify what the main idea(s) of the text are.

3 Guided Practice-Guided Reading Groups

  1. The teacher should break students into guided reading groups based on their current reading level.
  2. The teacher should pick one article from Newsela (a different one than the whole group article) and provide each guided reading level with a different lexile level of the article that matches their learning needs
  3. The teacher should work with the lowest and second to lowest group throughout the lesson, and float to the middle and high groups during the guided reading activity.
  4. Students will read the article, underline supporting details, and use these details to identify a main idea.
Student Instructions

The students will:

  1. Read the article one time through individually.
  2. Read the article with a partner/members of their group
  3. Underline supporting details from the text
  4. Use the underlined supporting details to identify a main idea for the article.

4 Wrap-Up

The teacher will ask the same 2 questions from the beginning of the lesson, using a poll/discussion feature.

  1. What is main idea?
  2. What are supporting details?
Student Instructions

Students will type responses to both of these questions, and participate in a whole class discussion on finding main idea and supporting details within a text.

5 Going Further-Homework

Google Drive
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The students will need to create a 2 paragraph, nonfiction writing sample, which has a main idea and supporting details.

They will share this writing sample with the teacher via Google Drive.

Student Instructions
  1. Create a 2 paragraph, nonfiction writing sample, that has a main idea and at least 3 supporting details.
  2. Upload this writing to Google Docs and share it with the teacher.