School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 4. Determine important ideas and messages in informational texts

Objective b. Identify main ideas/messages


Before reading an informational text, the teacher will model how a reader previews the text by looking at the cover for title, author and illustration and then quickly moving through the pages to note information on the table of contents, photographs or illustrations, and headings to determine the topic or subject. For example, using the trade book, Rabbit (Watch Me Grow) by Lisa Magloff, the teacher would read the title and preview the cover illustration. The teacher would continue the preview by reading the table of contents and looking at the illustrations throughout the entire text. Based on the preview, the students would determine that the topic of the book is rabbits. After reading the text, the teacher would discuss the text with the students and then come back to the main idea with a think aloud such as, "Before I read this text, I determined that the topic of the text was rabbits. After reading this text here are some important details that this book told me about rabbits." The teacher shares details from the text that she has written on sentence strips.


Rabbits have large ears, strong legs and are covered in fur.
Several rabbit families live in underground tunnels called a warren.
The rabbit parents dig a chamber to build a nest for babies.
Baby bunnies are born with no fur and their eyes are closed.
In just two weeks baby bunnies have fur and their eyes are open.
Baby bunnies drink their mother's milk and grow active by the time they are 3 weeks old.
Baby rabbits cautiously go outside and play near the hole of their burrow when they are 4 weeks old.
Now baby rabbits find their own leafy, green plants to eat outside.
By the time rabbits are 8 weeks old they are adults and can start their own families.
There are lots of different kinds of rabbits throughout the world.

The teacher continues with the think aloud after the details are complete. "After reading through the details listed on the sentence strips, I find that most of the sentences tell me about how rabbits grow from babies to adults. I could say that the main idea of this text is that with the help of their rabbit families, baby bunnies grow from helpless newborns to independent adults in a matter of weeks. Let's look at the title of the text, Rabbit (Watch me Grow). Does this title tell the topic? Yes, Rabbit. Does this title tell the main idea? Yes, Rabbit (Watch me Grow). In this case the title helped us identify the title and main idea of the text."


The teacher could now select some other texts that deal with the same topic. Using this example the teacher might choose:

  • Welcome to the World of Rabbits and Hares by Diane Swanson - this text tells mainly about different types of rabbits around the world
  • Getting to Know Your Rabbit by Gill Page - this text tells mainly about how choose and care for a pet rabbit
  • Rabbits & Raindrops by Jim Arnosky - this text tells about a baby rabbit family coming out of it's nest for the first time

The teacher could choose the level of modeling necessary to continue to develop this skill. Whole class shared reading or small group guided reading would probably be appropriate to continue this learning. The teacher could have the students write the details on sentence strips and then have the group determine the main idea with teacher guidance.


The teacher selects a text that has chapter titles or headings in order to move from the main idea of a whole text to the main idea of a portion of text. An interesting text for this lesson might be Baby Lion by Aubrey Lang. In this text the author presents a table of contents, however there are no chapter titles or headings throughout the text itself. The teacher could read the text with the students using a projector to provide an enlarged image for the students. Following a reading of the entire text the teacher could return to specific portions of text, reread the text and check the contents page to see the title provided by the author. Using these clues the teacher would guide the students in stating an appropriate main idea for the pages. For example, the teacher might reread page 12 of the text. The students would state details from the page and the teacher could record these details on a chart. The students could refer to the content page and find that the author titled this page Birth Day. Using the details and the author's title, the students would state an appropriate main idea. This process could be continued in small groups using this same text or an appropriately leveled text and the chart could be expanded as the example below.

Text details Author's Title Main Idea
P. 12-13
  1. Mother lion leaves pride to have babies.
  2. Finds a place in the bushes or tall grass
  3. Cubs are born with their eyes closed
  4. Need to drink a lot of their mother's milk
  5. After a week their eyes open and they start to explore
Birth Day The mother lion leaves the pride to give birth to and care for her newborn cubs.
P. 18-20
  1. Mother lions have not eaten in 2 days and must hunt for food.
  2. Adult males are not around to protect the cubs.
  3. Cubs are in danger to be attacked by predators.
  4. Mother's return shortly after sunrise
  5. Cubs rush to greet them by rubbing their bodies on their mother's chin
  6. Mothers sleep because they are tired from hunting but they weren't able to catch anything
The Search for Food The mother lions leave the cubs alone overnight to hunt for food and return unsuccessfully in the morning to their cubs.

As an extension, some students may take the text, Lions by Jill Anderson and cooperatively write a contents page. The teacher could introduce the text. The students could read the text and add page numbers. The teacher can pre-chunk the text and have students write a chapter title for the pages or they could have student pairs chunk the text and design their own contents. A sample appears below:

Table of Contents
Life on the Plains………p. 1
Family Pride………p. 5
Male Pride………p. 9
Nap Time………p. 13
Nighttime Hunt………p. 17