As students move through the standards, they will need to master standard 2: Central Ideas. This standard is about writing! Under many of the past, more traditionally formatted standards this might have been found in the writing strand. This standard demands that students find the central ideas, write about how they were developed, and then summarize what they read.
Mastery of this standard involves two key skills: the ability to determine central ideas and to objectively summarize a text. For students to arrive at mastery, they need to be able to:
- Summarize text
- Recognize how to write objectively
- Identify a central idea or ideas
- Understand how central ideas are developed
It is important to note that this standard, while a reading standard, demands a level of writing proficiency. If a student can determine the central idea, but cannot write a summary about it, they have not mastered the standard. If the student can write a summary, but it is not objective, they have not mastered the standard. To teach this standard, teachers need to understand that you are teaching students to write a summary and extract central ideas from the text. A great deal of focus is on extracting ideas from the text. A good analogy for conceptualizing this standard is to picture students playing the game of Operation. Students have those tiny plastic tweezers, and they are carefully attempting to pull out those wishbones and spare ribs. Your goal is to help them learn how to remove those central parts and summarize what they were all about.
A great strategy for working on Central Ideas is using the Sum it Up! Strategy from Reading Quest. This strategy assigns a 10 cents value to all words. Students are tasked with creating a summary that only contains a certain number of words. Example: a $2.00 summary has 20 words or $3.50 (35 words). Listed below are some great sites that use this strategy and the original handout ready to download and use with your class. Just click the square on the right to download the reproducible for your class.