School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

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 1.0 General Reading Processes

Topic E. General Reading Comprehension

Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)

Objective a. Identify and explain the main idea or argument


Prior to this activity, the teacher should ensure that students can determine the subject of a text. Once the subject has been found in the selected text, the teacher should model how one should find relevant details about the subject. The teacher will model a verbal analysis of the first sentence/s of the passage, identify repeated words within the passage, and analyze the title or headings within the text. Next, the teacher will show how looking at all the noted details helps a reader determine what the author is saying about the subject. The combination of the subject and the relevant details helps a reader state the main idea. Once modeling is complete, individual students, student partners, or small groups can determine the main idea of another text using the following organizer to assist in the process.

Detail Detail Detail
Main Idea


Prior to this activity, the teacher should ensure that students can locate subtitles or headings within a selected text. The teacher should model the location of headings and form the heading into a question. Then the teacher should show how to look through that section of text to find details/information that would help to answer the question. Finally, the teacher should relate the details/information to the subject of the question to show how this can help a reader state the main idea of that section. Once this activity has been modeled, students may try the procedure independently. (Teacher Note: Not all headings work with this activity. Review the text/s carefully before modeling or assigning independent texts for this procedure.)


The teacher should preview and select two texts: one where the main idea is directly stated in the text and one where the main idea must be determined from details/information within the text. The teacher should present both texts to the class and model how the directly stated main idea is located and confirmed and using either of the previous two seed activities, how the indirectly stated main idea can be determined. Next, for practice, the teacher should place students in small groups and give each group a folder with 3-5 short passages in it. Using the procedures modeled by the teacher, students should decide which passages have directly or indirectly stated ideas. In class sharing, students should be able to justify their answers.