One of the most confusing aspects of breaking down a piece of writing is separating important details from the not-so-important details. The truth of the matter is, that many details in a piece are there to paint a picture in the reader's mind, not necessarily to help the reader understand the main idea. Don't get me wrong, all details serve a purpose. Without the not-so-important details, many pieces would be boring and unfulfilling to read. But, when students are looking to find the main idea and the most important details, I often urge them to use this strategy: I ask students to imagine erasing all the sentences except for the ones that a reader would absolutely have to have in order to understand the topic. Maybe it makes the piece less exciting and imaginative, but if the reader can finish the piece and get the gist of the topic, then we have done our job. The following video takes the movie, The Wizard of Oz, and gets rid of all the beautiful, exciting, and heartfelt details, and breaks it down to the most crucial information. After watching, you may not understand why the movie was considered a cinematic triumph, but you will get the gist of the story- and those are the most important details.
This is my 14th year teaching. I love Social Studies, Reading and Writing! Tell me something you love and I will give you 5 Parker Pride Tickets!