Summarizing and Main Idea with Headings

I have been spending a lot of time with my students working on important reading skills and strategies.  With the big Virginia SOL testing around the corner for these students, we have hit some really hard!

One area all of our students in our school struggle with is summarizing.  They either want to just retell everything by focusing on every single detail or not including enough information.

While working with my students last week, we focused a lot on both main idea and summarizing.  This activity was super simple, and they really enjoyed doing it!

I simply used the article above from World Book Kids to do the activity.  I was super excited that the headings were not included, and there was plenty of room to write.

We read the passage all the way through together.  Since this was the first time we did this, I did some modeling with the first part.  I reread the first two paragraphs to the students.  While reading, I highlighted the most important words.  We then talked about the words and what they all had in common.
After talking about the words and thinking about what they had in common, we worked together to come up with a good heading for the parts of the passage.  Once we had good headings for the parts of the passage, we wrote them above those parts and discussed what we had written.  Did they make sense?   Would someone be able to tell what they would learn about in each part?

I loved this activity because it was something we could easily do and discuss.  It made them think about the important words, not the entire passage.  It helped them focus on the main idea.

This also helped them to understand the purpose of headings in nonfiction.  They wrote their own, so now they know what they are for.  Hopefully, when they read, they will focus on those headings before they read any further.

How do you help students with summarizing and main idea?

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