Main Idea and Details - With a Little Help from Wordle

Terri Mills - David Reese Elementary School

Part 1: Building a paragraph:

Part 2 - Using Wordle:

Subject Area: Language Arts
Grade Level: Fifth Grade

Overview: Students will create a graphic organizer (accordion) for a paragraph that incorporates a main idea, details, explanations of the details, and a wrap-up. Using the graphic organizer, the students will write a paragraph for display in the classroom. In addition, the students will use the graphic organizer to also create a wordle. The wordle will graphically show the difference between the big (main) ideas and the small (details) ideas. The wordle will be displayed on the class blog.


  • Students will write a paragraph about a student-chosen topic.
  • Students will create a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.
  • Students will write a main idea sentence.
  • Students will write at least two supporting details.
  • Students will write sentences explaining the details more fully.
  • Students will write a wrap-up sentence to close out the paragraph.
  • Students will publish their paragraphs on both paper and on the class blog using to create the artwork.


Day1- Main Idea and Details
Using the PowerPoint or Smartboard lesson, teach about main ideas and details. Focus on the four places the main idea can be found in a paragraph.

  • Get the students focused on the lesson by having them come up with one thing that all of the members of their table have in common.
  • State the purpose of the lesson.
  • Introduce the idea of main idea using four slides with pictures (concrete).
  • Reiterate the standard and objective.
  • In their writer’s or reader’s notebooks, have the students take notes on where the main idea sentence can be placed in a paragraph. (7 slides) You may want to print the notes, and have them glue them in the notebooks.
  • Guide the class through four paragraphs, looking for the main idea and details. If you are using the Smartboard lesson, students can move the left star over to the right star to show the green and yellow underlining. A green line is the main idea sentence. Yellow lines are the details.
  • Students answer the “Out the Door” questions on a notecard or ½ sheet of paper. Their answers will help you formulate small re-teaching groups.

Day 2-Paragraph Writing

  • Allow students to choose a topic to write a paragraph. Guide them so that they do not choose a topic that is too broad. You may want to provide some options for those students that have a difficult time coming up with ideas independently.
  • Hand out the accordion paragraph graphic organizer to help the students organize their ideas.
  • Students write the rough draft of their paragraph.

Day 3- Paragraph Revision & Editing

  • Students reread their own paragraph and make revisions, checking for the essential parts of a paragraph.
  • Students work with a peer to revise their writing. They should tell their partner what they think works in their writing and make suggestions for improvement.
  • Independently, students make additional revisions they feel are necessary.
  • Students edit for spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
  • Students write the final draft of the paragraph. These can be posted in the classroom after the wordle is complete.

Day 4- Wordle

  • Hand out the directions for “How to Make a Wordle.”
  • Students will need the paragraph they wrote yesterday.
  • When the wordles are complete, paste them into a gmail document that you can link with your blog. You will need a gmail account to do this. They are free on the website. I was able to upload a Powerpoint document.


  • PowerPoint or Smartboard document
  • Accordion Paragraph graphic organizers
  • Dictionaries
  • “How to Make a Wordle” handout
  • Computer with Internet access

Lesson Resources:

  • Main Idea and Detail PowerPoint
  • Main Idea and Detail Smartboard document
  • Accordion Paragraph Graphic Organizer
  • “How to Make a Wordle” Handout

Student Products:



  • Communication and Collaboration : Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
    • interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
    • communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats

Common Core Standards:

  • Writing 5.- With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop andstrengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • Writing 6.- With some guidance and support from adults, use technology,including the internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others
  • Reading Informational Texts: Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details.

California Content Standards:

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading 2.3 The students will discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.
    • Writing 1.4 The students will create simple documents by using electronic media and employing organizational features.
    • Writing 1.6 The students will edit and revise manuscripts to improve the meaning and focus of writing by adding, deleting, consolidating, clarifying and rearranging words and sentences.