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newsela - maybe a stupid question
Old 01-10-2019, 10:27 PM
 
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If you use newsela, maybe you can answer a question that feels like a stupid question.

What does "Write a short paragraph that explains the central idea of the article. Use at least two details from the article to support your response" mean to you?

We're trying to figure out if they mean summarize the main idea with at least two details or if they mean to state what the main idea is and support your claim that that's the main idea with two details from the article.

Example: an article about how bears help to disperse seeds

Do the students just summarize how bears disperse seeds, using at least two details? Bears are an essential part of the ecosystem because they help disperse seeds throughout the ecosystem. One way they do this is by eating thousands of seeds and traveling great distances to scatter them in their droppings. According to the article, some plant species have gone extinct when the animal that ate them went extinct. There are many plants that depend on bears to disperse their seeds.


Or do they write something like The main idea is that bears are essential to plant reproduction because they disperse a variety of seeds. I can tell this is the main idea because each of the three sections included different information about dispersing seeds but all of them included how the bears were important. For example, in the section Many Seeds, bears eat 1000s of seeds compared to the handful that birds eat, and in the section "Extinction," bears were compared to the dodo bird. Also, each of the photographs showed a bear eating berries and other fruit, and illustrations usually support the main idea."

Does that make sense? One of us thinks that it's just looking for a simple summary and one thinks it's looking for "how can you tell this is the main idea?"



Last edited by Gromit; 01-10-2019 at 10:42 PM..
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:22 AM
 
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I think it is like your second example. The question is worded vaguely though. Main idea would be more clear. Eta:
After looking t up, central idea is the theme of an informational text. When we have to look things up to understand them, we have gone too far.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:29 AM
 
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Thanks.

It never even occurred to me to google it. So we've both been steering the students wrong. The theme of the article?? That's going to be difficult, I think. My students still struggle with the theme of fiction!

I wish they'd give sample answers for the Write portion, especially since every student is writing about different articles half the time. It takes a long time to grade!
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:38 PM
 
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The first one I made up for my class a couple of years ago. It's a smartboard file. The second one ..I have no idea where I got it but it's good.
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File Type: notebook central message vs main idea.notebook (493.0 KB, 19 views)
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:39 PM
 
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I'm having major tech issues today. Here's the PPT


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File Type: ppt THEME PPT.ppt (184.0 KB, 22 views)
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:17 PM
 
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Kahlua beat me to it regarding the definition of central idea.

You might be surprised that students have an easier time with central ideas than with the main idea in fiction books. Informational tests are much more literal. They might waffle between the bear's impact on their environment vs how bear's impact plant life, but it isn't' as difficult as picking out the main idea when it comes to behaviors or feelings as a student might need to do in a literary work.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:30 PM
 
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I find your question fascinating, not stupid.

My initial thought was your first explanation, but after reading the sample paragraphs I think it is the second one. The first one is actually an objective summary. I am not familiar with Common Core in younger grades, but in high school the RI9.2 standard includes both being able to provide an objective summary and being able to determine the central idea, so separate skills. I think if students are used to the first one being their response, there will be confusion when they get to objective summaries.

That being said, I think NewsELA probably intended to get the first response, but I don't think it answers what's actually being asked.

I disagree that central idea is the theme of the text. I think central idea is the same thing as the main idea, and theme is the message readers are supposed to take away from the text. In Common Core in high school, theme is not found in the RI Standards, only in the RL ones.

Mom23kids, the source of your PPT is ereadingworksheets. He uses a distinctive color palette that I recognized immediately! If you like that resource, he has a lot of good stuff.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:15 PM
 
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With NewsELA short paragraphs I tend to get both example 1 and 2. Wheat I teach them to do it more like your example 1-however when I get your example 2 as a response I accept it as high scoring as well since it still meets the criteria of the prompt.

If I can get my third graders to simply correctly identify main idea and cite the test to support their claim about the main idea I see it as a win. I swear they come to me barely fluent and yet I have to get critical thinking about a text and a written response about that critical thinking...no wonder I get some many tears in third grade.
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Tyrex, thank you!
Old 01-12-2019, 04:11 AM
 
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I'd never seen Ereadingworksheets before. Great site! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:04 PM
 
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Your thinking is more along the lines of what I was thinking, but wow, it is hard to get the 5th graders to write coherently about this.


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