These resources focus on helping students to determine importance in informational texts. The collection includes ideas for introduction, mini-lessons, modeling and practice.
One important reading strategy for our students is determining importance. Modern technology insures that there is definitely information overload, so we need to teach students what to pay attention to and what might be interesting, but not necessarily important to the topic or point that a writer is trying to make.
We have developed these resources as a means for you to give your primary students a preliminary understanding and some guided practice with this important strategy.
You will find the download for all the resources described below at the bottom of the post in LARGE BOLD text.
Introduction to Determining Importance – We suggest you start simply by asking students to think about their daily lives. Guide a discussion about the items they come into contact with each day and have them write their ideas on Post-It notes. Gather students and let them know that you will be categorizing their ideas into two groups – needs and wants. Start by discussing what they wrote and placing the Post-Its on a board in two groups. Next, rename the groups “important to life” and “not important, but nice” and then facilitate the discussion further by talking moving the Post-Its again if necessary. Talk about the specifics of why some things are important (or necessary) in our lives, while other things are nice, but not necessities.
Determining Importance Practice – To give your students further practice with understanding how to determine importance, we have provided four pages that give students the opportunity to think about given topics and figure out what is needed for that topic. You can discuss these as a class or place students in groups for discussion and then have the groups present their thoughts.
Materials for Modeling the Strategy – It will be important for students at this age to have this strategy modeled again and again so that they become very familiar with the thought process behind determining importance in texts. We have provided a graphic organizer poster that you can use for modeling the strategy with any piece of text or passage with your entire class. This same poster, as well as another with a place for a book or text title, has also been provided in black & white for independent or small group practice.
There are also three separate reading passages with topic specific organizers that you can use for mini-lessons or small group guided practice. These passages are more difficult and definitely need teacher guidance. They are not intended for independent work with students at this level.
When to Take Notes While Reading – Taking notes can be especially hard for students, so giving them early practice can be key to their success. The problem most students have is writing way too much or almost re-writing what an author has shared. Understanding how to determine importance will help them understand what notes to take. For this lesson we have provided an anchor chart with some guidelines for taking notes while reading. To practice this skill, discuss the chart and then read a short nonfiction book or passage. Have students write their ideas on Post-it notes (if you use the organizer poster) as they come to various guidelines on the chart as your are reading. They can then place their Post-Its in the correct spot on the poster for discussion. We have also provided these organizers in black & white if you would prefer they do this independently as you read or for practice once you have modeled this skill.
Focus on Important Vocabulary Words – There may be lots of words in nonfiction texts that are new to students. While understanding them all is important, we want the students to be able to note the words that are content specific to the topic and therefore very important to the understanding of that topic. Again, lots of modeling and guided practice are what students need for success. Use the poster provided for whole class reading and discussions about vocabulary and save the black and white organizer for practice.
Writing a Summary – Finally, we want our students to be able to write about their new learning. Again, modeling several times in front of the class will make students more comfortable when they begin to attempt it independently. We have provided an anchor chart and four different organizer posters (with accompanying student organizers) for this purpose. Choose the ones that you feel would serve your students best. There are also two pages for written rough drafts you can use.