What is the “big” idea? • Main idea: Central concept of a piece. It is the BIG idea that the author wants you to take away from a reading (or political cartoon). • The main idea may be one sentence OR the one idea that the author keeps coming back to throughout the piece. • What was the main idea of the Joy Cometh in the Morning “This I Believe” essay?
PS • The main idea is the PS in soaPStone. • What is the author’s PURPOSE and SUBJECT (that he/she is focusing on)of the piece of a text? • What does the author hope to accomplish by his expression of his opinion? • The main idea represents the essential point that the author is trying to make which is his/her PURPOSE for writing a text.
BEWARE!! • The main idea is supported throughout the whole piece with supporting ideas. • Be careful to not mistake those points for the main idea.
Identify the Topic • Look at the title • If you turn the title into a question, the main idea will be the answer to that question. • Think about the article that we read, “When Flexibility Hurts” • How does flexibility hurt? Where does flexibility hurts? Why does flexibility hurt? Who does flexibility hurt? etc. • Look at the first and last paragraph • Look for KEY words (synonyms) that appear throughout the text. • What is the point about those repeated word? WHY are they being repeated?
Remind Yourself • Remind yourself: The topic must include all the major details and events from the selection. • Caution: Not every detail has something to do with the topic. The topic is the common element or connection between major details. • What do all major details share in common?
Check Yourself: Not the True Topic If… • It’s too general or too big. • Totally misses the point. • It captures only one or some of the details, for example, maybe you didn’t think about the ending. (Overarching link between the details)
Identify All Details/Major Events • Authors often plant important ideas in: • Details that reflect or refer to the title. • Details at the beginning of a text and/or end of a text. • Repetition. • Italicized or bolded text.
Check Yourself: It’s Not a Key Detail If… • It’s interesting, but it doesn’t develop the topic/lead to the main idea. • If you were to remove it from the piece, the piece wouldn’t lose any significant meaning or impact. Questions to Check Yourself: • Are all the details related to the topic? • How do the key details relate to each other?
Identify the Central Focus (thesis) • The thesis must make a point about the topic and cover the whole selection. • Which details help me decide on the thesis? Why are these details important? • The thesis considers how the details relate to one another or lead to one another (what caused or led to what).
Check Yourself: It’s Not the Central Focus Statement If… • It is so literal and specific it doesn’t allow the reader to apply the main idea to his own life. • It is too general. • It is true but misses the point of the text. • It only fits one/some detail or event, not the whole text.