Teacher: “Today we are going to read a fascinating story about Thomas Edison." Ask the students what they already know about Edison.
“This story is a little different because it tells about the childhood of Mr. Edison. We will find out about his struggles and his determination. After we read we will talk about the main idea of several passages in the book. Then we will decide if there are details that support or explain the main idea."
There are many passages in the book that clearly define the main idea. You may choose several until you are sure the students understand the concept. Below are examples from the book:
At age twelve young Al (Thomas) decided to look for a job. He needed money to continue his experiments. So he went into business as a paperboy on the train from Port Huron, where the Edisons now lived, to Detroit, Michigan. Every morning from 7a.m. to 10a.m. Al sold newspapers.
Most often the main idea is in the first sentence of a paragraph.
- “At the age of twelve young Al decided to look for a job." is the main idea and this means that the other sentences in the paragraph have to give more information about this main idea.
- Ask some simple questions to see if the sentences give us more information:
- Why did he want a job? What job did he find? When will he work?
- Are there any sentences that do not explain or refer to the main idea?
Here is another example from the book:
Thomas loved to experiment. In 1856, at the age of nine, he turned his family’s cellar into a laboratory complete with test tubes, beakers and whatever chemicals he could buy. It was a mess—bottles were everywhere. Young Al would mix one chemical after another, sometimes following the experiments in his chemistry book—sometimes not. “A little of this and a little of that, “ he used to mumble.
- What is the main idea?
- How do we know that he liked experimenting? What did he do about it?