Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to...

Identify conventions in non-fiction texts that help us to identify important information
Differentiate between important and less important ideas in a text
Code the text with a star to indicate important information


Student Worksheet (attached)
Overhead transparency on determining importance (attached)
American History text books, one for each student (If American History textbooks are available, any textbook with information about the Great Depression will do.)
Sticky Notes for coding the text

Do Now: (Students (S) will begin by completing the Do Now, which requires them to combine sentences, a high-yield strategy for improving student writing. The teacher (T) can then pair/share or whole-class share student responses. There are many possible correct responses.)

Connection: Today we'll continue to address the relative importance of one idea in comparison to another.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice: As we discussed yesterday, topic, central idea, details and determining importance are all related.  In fact, since determining importance just means being able to tell the difference between important and less importation information, you use your skills for determining importance when you identify the topic, central idea and details of a text.

But determining importance is an especially important skill for digesting longer or more complex texts, the kind you will frequently encounter later in your education and on the job.

Yesterday we talked through three steps you can take before you read to help you to determine importance, and we also discussed what we do when we think we see information that is important.  Who can remind me what some of those previewing steps are?  (T will take S responses and reveal items on the overhead as S identify them.)

And what do we do once we see important information in our reading?  (T will solicit S response and reveal step 4 on the overhead.)

Today we will be practicing these skills with our history text books.  I am going to set a purpose for your reading, and you will walk through the four steps for determining importance with your table partners.

Your purpose for reading is to learn about the New Deal.  Please identify three facts or ideas relating to the New Deal that you believe to be important.  (T will record these instructions on the board.)  After 15 minutes, you should be ready to share those ideas with another set of partners.  

(If your text does not include adequate information on the New Deal, you could just as easily identify another 1930s-related topic for students to research.)

(As S read, T will circulate to ensure that S are following the four-step approach for following information.  Ideally, S will use the table of contents to flip to a chapter relating to the Great Depression and identify information on the New Deal with the help of chapter subtitles.  Next, they will check out key words and phrases and preview photos, diagrams and captions.  Finally, they will sticky-note and star three important ideas or facts within that section of the text.  If some students seem to require additional clarification when presented with this task, suggest that they ask other teams how they plan on finding the required information.)

(After allowing sufficient time, allow S to pair up with another team and share information.  Then facilitate a whole-class share.)

Link: If you are reading a non-fiction selection for your literature circle group, you should extend your practice into your independent reading period by trying to identify the topic and central idea of each chapter on sticky notes as you read and by starring sentences or passages that you believe to be important.

If you are reading a fiction selection, however, you should code the text to show your thinking.

Independent Practice: (S will read silently and code the text or identify topic and central idea.

Since all S should have selected literature circle novels and scheduled meetings with their literature circle groups for this week, small groups of students may be holding their meetings at this time.

T will either hold individual conferences with students to monitor progress and to support individual goal-setting or pull small groups for guided reading / other interventions.

Share: Our time for today is up. Please feel free to turn to your table partner or take a short walk to meet with your literature circle group so that you can share your work for today. Go over the observations you made as you read, and critique each others' thinking.

(T should allow time and circulate to check for understanding.)

Closing: Remember, determining importance is a critical skill for us as readers, because complex texts--the kinds we encounter later in our educations in frequent in real life--often contain many important ideas.

It's time for million dollar question!

1. Explain one previewing strategy that helps us to determine importance as we read.

2. Define central idea.

3. Note to the Instructor: Insert a question here that spirals learning from previous units.

4. Explain the relationship between the "topic" and the "central idea."


Gradual release and pair/share during Introduction to New Material/Guided Practice
Literature circle novels are differentiated by reading level and by choice
Active reading strategy: coding the text
One-on-one Reader's Workshop conference to support individual students and to encourage individual goal-setting


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