Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 Tips for Teaching Main Topic and Key Details in Kindergarten


     My school requires me to spend the majority of my whole group literacy instruction focusing on the CCSSs for reading informational text and reading literature. All of my whole group lessons must follow EDI (Explicit Direct Instruction) format. This means that I am expected to teach the majority my reading lessons using short passages and powerpoint presentations. Just 3 weeks into kindergarten and I was taught main topic and key details to my students! I had to assess my students on this standard before the end of the first month of school. Last year was my first year to begin focusing on these standards and the academic vocabulary (main topic, key details) so early in the year. It was overwhelming at first, but it has become much easier with time. Here are some tricks I have found to build success with this standard during the first weeks of kindergarten!

1. Make a connection while engaging your students. 

      Start off strong! I begin my first lesson on main topic by selecting a simple informational text and reading the title aloud the the students. I get all excited and tell my students that I know what the book is going to be about.... then I give a completely ridiculous answer. They are quick to correct me and tell me what they think the book will be about. I also begin my main topic lessons by playing a guessing game. You can do this with a circle map (leave the center blank) or with a bag full of pictures! Students love drawing the pictures from the bag and trying to guess what the pictures tell about! 


2. Don't be afraid to model with passages. 

I won't lie. Overall, I believe that using passages to teach kindergarteners can lead to major engagement/management problems. I also believe that reading authentic texts with engaging illustrations gives us a greater chance of creating real readers, not just test takers. However, using very short passages to model reading skills on occasion can be truly beneficial. You can find some of the passages that I used to teach main topic and key details here. Passages are also a perfect check for understanding! 

3. Begin with simple books or passages on already familiar topics.

   We read informational text to learn new things. Many kindergarteners, however, begin school with little to no exposure to informational text! Use texts on familiar topics to introduce the reading skill first. Then put the skill to use with texts on less familiar topics! I found this series of color books in our school library this year! They are so simple and perfect for introducing main topic and key details to kindergarteners. I created a web to go along with the Blue book. You can download this main topic and key details graphic organizer for FREE by clicking the picture below! 

 (You can find the Colors All Around Us books on amazon if you do not have them.) 

4.  Provide students with sentence stems to help them tell what they know and how they know it! 

      Model using sentences such as, "I know _____ was the main topic because the text was mostly about _____. I heard _____ in the title and I heard the word repeated many times." Model non-examples as well. When students are identifying the main topic or the key details provide them with a sentence stem for support: 
"The main topic is _____ because _____."
"I know that this is not the main topic because ______."
"_____ is a key detail because _____."
"______ is not a key detail because ______," 

5. Create anchor charts with fun visuals! 

Here are a few that I have used in the past: