When writing essays, position papers, reports, and stories, authors must present their main idea clearly. Everything within the story or essay must sustain the central topic of thought, from the setting and the characterizations to the supporting arguments and evidence. A really good technique that you can use to help students with this skill is teach students to use the title of a passage to help them infer the main idea of the story. In nonfictional works the title almost tells you everything you need to know to sketch out the main idea. The second skill that students should be proficient with is how to differentiate between topics and the supporting details of the story. I find that this comes with practice. Graphic organizers are really helpful for this skill. They can help you chart out your path to success.
Readers must be able to identify the main thoughts in order to fully enjoy a story or be swayed by an argument. The general format of the worksheets helps students learn how to find the main idea of extended passages. Some are in multiple choice format, but the majority are open responses since many students will have different, but acceptable answers. We do our best on the answer keys to indicate about what the answer should be for the open response problems. The following collection of worksheets gives students short reading passages and asks them to identify the main idea, central theme, and cause using context clues. Project idea: Have your students write a short passage and change small details to establish different central themes. This will help them understand what goes into conveying the concept of the main idea of a body of work. For example: Goldie is: 1) a dog, 2) a cat, or 3) a fish.