Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unlocking the MAIN IDEA with KEY DETAILS

In preparation for my future gig as a DII coach in my district, I have been using my students as guinea pigs while I deliver lessons in strict DII fashion. I must say...it has never gone better! I have never had more skill mastery in any given year than I have now!!!

DII stands for Direct Interactive Instruction. Do not mistake it for the drill and kill of regular direct instruction. DII is anything but that. There is nothing groundbreaking or brand new about it. The easiest way I can explain it is that it takes every best practice we know about teaching and fits it into four quadrants that we should utilize during our allocated teaching time. As a teacher using DII, you are ensuring that you are giving all students what they need to meet the objective successfully. Below you will see some visuals used in determining MAIN IDEA and KEY DETAILS in Room 5. 

The first time I ever introduced this standard/objective, I placed the check next to step 2. I gave students the main idea using small text passages at first. They learned how to "unlock" the main idea by locating 2 key details that supported the main idea. The poster on the right side shows what I used to intro the lesson. Students helped me determine what key detail would fit the main idea "Dogs are wonderful pets".

The second time I reviewed this skill, I completed step 3 for students. They were able to use the key details to determine what the main idea of the informational passages was. They worked in partners to complete step 4. This is how I was able to make further plans for the future and was an informal observation I was able to use to measure my students' mastery of the skill.

As we made our way through the lesson, we continuously referred back to our lesson objective. I moved the objective down the poster as we transitioned into new expectations. At the conclusion of the lesson, I filled in a bar on the standard. This showed students that we weren't done talking about and practicing determining main idea and key details. The visual also seemed to help them feel less overwhelmed knowing that we would be going over it more in the future. 

Before expecting my students to be able to determine main idea and details all at once in long passages, I used shorter informational passages to practice the skill with them. I have made these passages available in my TPT store. For the first lesson, I already had the main idea box filled in. Students went through the passage, underlining the details. During the second attempt, I had the detail boxes filled in while they determined the main idea. 

With the additional passages I have, I will be creating a differentiated literacy center for my students to work in during our guided reading time. I plan on setting it up similar to the picture below. I will place the passages in a page protector sleeve. Students can use dry erase markers to locate information within the passage. After reading, they will have a graphic organizer to fill out (which I have also provided a picture of below). 

I can differentiate for students by giving them certain information already filled in, I can ask them for fewer or more details as I see fit, and I can partner students up to read the passages together in the center. 

I hope that you find this post helpful! Please check back for more goodies, tips, and freebies!



  1. Thank you for the great idea and the Teachers Notebook give away!

  2. :D Good luck in the drawing, AJ!