Evidence vs. Details: What's the difference when teaching Main Idea?

Amanda Wilp
It's the second semester and the countdown to the first round of standardized testing is underway.  We have five full weeks of instruction before our first day of testing here in Indiana.  In my classroom, I feel like my students are great at individual skills, but they seem to have a difficult time putting them all together to tackle a difficult, new, or multistep task.  Sooo, it's time to practice juggling!

In science this week, we are wrapping up our unit on the solar system.  One of my goals this year has been to do a better job of integrating science and social studies with reading.  After reading a small section from our science book, it was time to bring in a few reading strategies.

I gave each student two pages to cut out.  The first had an inference that I had made based on what we had just read from our chapter.  The second page contained ten sentences from our textbook.

We discussed how each and every sentence in our textbook is a detail, however not ALL of the details are also EVIDENCE for our inference.  Then, they began to read each sentence, deciding if it was evidence to my inference or if was simply a detail about the topic.

After we had sorted and discussed each sentence from our passage, it was time to put it to work!  I had a question for them to answer based on the text that we had just read.  My most reluctant short answer writers were saying how easy it was to answer the question based on all of the reading, sorting, and thinking we had done.  Now, it's time to transition to doing all of this independently!  #thatsfortomorrow

In the freebie above, I have included the sentences that I used for this activity.  I pulled them from page 200 in our fifth grade, Pearson science consumable.  I also have a blank template for you to put to use with ANY passage or topic you happen to be discussing!

I also love teaching Main Idea by using newspaper articles!  I have several fun activities in my Main Idea Using Newspaper Articles pack.  You can check it out by clicking the image above.

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