Common Core Standards: ELA
Standard 2: Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Breakin’ it Down:
Your juniors and seniors are already experts at finding the main ideas in a text. However, what might be new for them at this level is that college entrance exams are going to ask students to compare and contrast the main ideas of non-fiction texts on the same topic. (This comes up in the “dueling scientists” section of the ACT). Students have to be able to formulate a main idea statement that is not too broad (because that might miss the subtle differences between various author’s arguments) and not too narrow (to ensure they don’t miss the overarching points.)
This standard also asks students to find the main idea of sub-sections of the text. Make sure they can find or state the main idea of each smaller paragraph and explain how all the smaller ideas build to or support the overall main idea.
Note: The trickiest part of this standard is that, sometimes, the author’s opinion or the main idea shifts at some point during the reading. In such a case, make sure that students can formulate a main idea statement that incorporates both sections!
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Using this Standard
- 1984 Teacher Pass
- A Raisin in the Sun Teacher Pass
- A Rose For Emily Teacher Pass
- Animal Farm Teacher Pass
- Antigone Teacher Pass
- Beowulf Teacher Pass
- Brave New World Teacher Pass
- Fahrenheit 451 Teacher Pass
- Frankenstein Teacher Pass
- Hamlet Teacher Pass
- Heart of Darkness Teacher Pass
- Macbeth Teacher Pass
- Moby Dick Teacher Pass
- Narrative of Frederick Douglass Teacher Pass
- Of Mice and Men Teacher Pass
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Teacher Pass
- Othello Teacher Pass
- Romeo and Juliet Teacher Pass
- The Aeneid Teacher Pass
- The As I Lay Dying Teacher Pass
- The Bluest Eye Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Teacher Pass
- The Cask of Amontillado Teacher Pass
- The Catch-22 Teacher Pass
- The Catcher in the Rye Teacher Pass
- The Crucible Teacher Pass
- The Great Gatsby Teacher Pass
- The House on Mango Street Teacher Pass
- The Iliad Teacher Pass
- The Metamorphosis Teacher Pass
- The Odyssey Teacher Pass
- The Old Man and the Sea Teacher Pass
- The Tell-Tale Heart Teacher Pass
- Things Fall Apart Teacher Pass
- Wide Sargasso Sea Teacher Pass
Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom
1. UNDERSTUDY: Round Table
This is a class favorite that has a number of different iterations in teaching manuals. After reading a complex non-fiction piece, ask students to highlight the most important sentence in the text, then the most important phrase, and then the most important word. (These can come from anywhere in the text). When students have made their selections, go around the circle and have them read their sentences back-to-back without pausing. Then repeat the process for the phrases and the words. This opens up a great discussion for identifying important ideas in a slightly more exciting way than multiple-choice questions.
As a follow up, ask students to write a short response that details the main ideas that were most frequently cited. Do they agree or disagree with their classmates’ choices?
COLLEGIATE: Polar Opposites
For students to really master this standard, they need to be able to analyze the main points of multiple texts on the same topic. Pick at least two related non-fiction pieces. After reading, develop a series of statements that represent a major idea in one text, both texts, or neither text. If you want to get in a workout while teaching non-fiction, tape up “A”, “B”, “BOTH”, “NEITHER” markers on your walls and make students get up and move to the appropriate areas as you read the statements. And if you’re looking for something more low key, have students make flashcards with each option and hold them up as you read the main ideas.
This is a great opportunity for students to physically see where their answers are divided. And having the different groups talk it out will force students to return to the text to convince their classmates to switch places. Students may also want to create their own statements to try to trip up their classmates (not literally, we hope).