Common Core Standards: ELA
Standard 2: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Breakin’ it Down:
The good news is that this standard is just a fancy way of saying: “Make sure students can figure out the main idea of a non-fiction text.” In most cases, main idea statements (or thesis statements) are easier to formulate for non-fiction texts than for fiction or poetry. Usually, the authors of nonfiction texts explicitly state the main idea somewhere at the beginning of the text.
This standard also asks students to find the main ideas of sub-sections of the text. So, we’ll have to make sure that 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: Sometimes, the author’s opinion or the main idea shifts at some point during the reading, and this can be tricky for students to figure out and articulate. In such a case, make sure that students can formulate a main idea that incorporates both sections!]
Teach With Shmoop
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Using this Standard
- 1984 Teacher Pass
- A Raisin in the Sun Teacher Pass
- A Rose For Emily Teacher Pass
- A View from the Bridge Teacher Pass
- Animal Farm Teacher Pass
- Antigone Teacher Pass
- Beowulf Teacher Pass
- Brave New World Teacher Pass
- Death of a Salesman Teacher Pass
- Fahrenheit 451 Teacher Pass
- Frankenstein Teacher Pass
- Great Expectations Teacher Pass
- Hamlet Teacher Pass
- Heart of Darkness Teacher Pass
- Julius Caesar Teacher Pass
- King Lear Teacher Pass
- Lord of the Flies 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
- Sula Teacher Pass
- The Aeneid Teacher Pass
- The As I Lay Dying Teacher Pass
- The Bluest Eye Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales General Prologue Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue 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 Lottery Teacher Pass
- The Metamorphosis Teacher Pass
- The Odyssey Teacher Pass
- The Old Man and the Sea Teacher Pass
- The Scarlet Letter Teacher Pass
- The Tell-Tale Heart Teacher Pass
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Teacher Pass
- Things Fall Apart Teacher Pass
- To Kill a Mockingbird Teacher Pass
- Twilight Teacher Pass
- Wide Sargasso Sea Teacher Pass
- Wuthering Heights Teacher Pass
Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom
1. HATCHLING: The Goldilocks Test (Not too broad, not too narrow, but just right!)
As students start reading high school texts, they need to be able to identify main ideas without getting tricked by common distracters. The easiest way to do this is teach them to apply the Goldilocks Formula. A good main idea statement will not focus in on a small detail or an idea that is present in only one section of the text (too narrow). It also will not be a claim that is too big to be supported by the text or is not specific enough to address what the text was actually about (too broad).
As students sift through the answer choices to main idea questions, have them label the answers using the Goldilocks Formula so they can pinpoint the answer that’s just right.
TAKE FLIGHT: Compare/Contrast
The hardest version of this standard is to ask students to compare two texts that address the same topic but have different interpretations. Design activities where students must find the subtle differences between the main ideas of two texts. You can even organize a debate day when students must analyze the differences, side with one author, and explain their choice.