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Language Arts Reading

Main Ideas

Module Objectives

  • Define Main Idea and Topic
  • Examine general and specific ideas
  • Identify the Main Idea and Topic
  • Learn to re-state, paraphrase, and summarize Main Ideas within texts
  • Learn how to use context clues

Main Ideas and Topics

  • What is a Main Idea?
    • A Main idea is the most important point in a paragraph or selection
  • What is a Topic?
    • A Topic is the general subject of a paragraph or selection
    • Located at either the beginning or end of a sentence, a topic sentence is where the Main Idea is stated.
  • Why is it important to identify the Main Idea?
    • To become a better reader, it is necessary for you to identify the most important ideas the author is trying to make

General vs. Specific Ideas

  • To help identify main ideas and topics in a paragraph or selection, you must also be able to identify general and specific ideas
  • What is a general idea?
    • A general idea applies to non-specific individual items (i.e. fruit, sports, games)
  • What is a specific idea?
    • A specific idea refers to a more detailed or particular item (i.e. grapes, lemons, pineapples)

How do I Identify the Topic?

  • Before we can identify the Main Idea, we must determine the Topic.
  • How do you identify a topic in each paragraph/selection?
    • Each sentence in a paragraph discusses or explains a topic
    • To identify the overall topic of a paragraph or selection, you need to ask yourself,
      • "What is the one idea the author is talking about throughout the paragraph/selection?"

How Do I Identify the Main Idea?

  • Once you determine the topic of a paragraph/selection you can identify the Main Idea
  • How do I find the Main Idea?
    1. Read the paragraph/selection
    2. Look for important key words while reading
    3. Identify the topic – find the general subject of the entire paragraph
    4. Study the paragraph – the main idea will be the most meaningful point that ties all other details together

What is Summarizing?

  • Once you are able to identify the Main Idea in a selection/paragraph you can
    • Summarize — re-tell the paragraph/selection in your own words; contains the most important details only.
    • Ex. You read a paragraph about basketball and re-tell the selection in your own words with only the most important details.

What is Paraphrasing?

  • Paraphrase/Restating — re-tell the paragraph/selection in your own words; includes "all" details of the selection
    • Ex. You read a paragraph about soccer and re-tell the selection in your own words with every detail in the paragraph.

What are Context Clues?

  • Context clues are words that help to define unfamiliar words in a sentence
  • Studying the words in a sentences can help you figure out the meaning of a word
    • Ex. Sandra has so many friends and colleagues because she is a gregarious individual.
    • After reviewing the sentence, we know that Sandra has many friends. This is a context clue for gregarious. Gregarious means friendly or outgoing.

Let's Practice

Please complete the Practice exercises, followed by the test in this module.