Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What's in a Main Idea?

Lola Kirkland
Gadsden County Schools


Students learn to read and identify the main idea in articles by highlighting them.


The student understands explicit and implicit ideas and information in fourth-grade or higher texts (for example, knowing main idea or essential message, connecting important ideas with corresponding details, making inferences about information, distinguishing between significant and minor details, knowing chronological order of events).


-Newspaper (one per student)
-Highlighters (one per student)


1. Collect newspapers.
2. Collect highlighters.


NOTE: This lesson only addresses main ideas.

1. This lesson reinforces knowledge of the main idea. Students should have prior knowledge of main idea before the lesson is taught.

2. Review with students the concept of main idea in an article or other reading passage.

3. Next, explain to the students that the most important part of a story is the main idea.

4. Pass out copies of the newspaper to each student along with a highlighter.

5. Have students practice finding the main idea in an article and highlighting it.

6. Have students turn to the sports section of the newspaper. As a class, select an article together and find the main idea.

7. Next, have students clip one article from the newspaper which they find interesting. Tell students to underline the main idea of the article.


1. A formative assessment is made by the teacher during the group and individual activities. The teacher observes students highlighting the main idea in a particular article.

2. Students then locate main ideas in other articles as further assessment.

Information gathered during observations of assessments should be used to guide re-teaching opportunities as needed.
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