Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Determining Importance

I'm joining my blogging buddy, Emily @ The Reading Tutor OG, for her Mentor Monday Linky. I'm a little late to the party, but let's just pretend it's Monday.  ;)  The topic this week is using mentor texts for Determining Importance.

Let's start off with a brief explanation of the term. Determining importance is a strategy that readers use to distinguish what information in the text is important to know versus what information is simply interesting to read.
  • With narrative text, determining importance requires the reader to identify main ideas and infer themes of the story.
  • With nonfiction text, readers must be able to sift through information and decide what is most important. The focus is on retaining important information and learning from the text.  
Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, Strategies That Work 2002

The Wild Rumpus

Finding the main idea and supporting details is often difficult for children.  In order to help students develop this strategy, we must provide explicit instruction-with teacher modeling and think-alouds- and many opportunities for guided practice with both fiction and nonfiction text.

The Wild Rumpus blog offers a poster {freebie} with a great explanation for students.  I love the visual this poster provides.

One of my favorite picture books for teaching determining importance is The Night I Followed the Dog.  It's about a boy follows his dog to see what the pet does at night.  He discovers that his dog wears a tuxedo, rides in a limo, and visits a club where dogs can get treats (without having to roll over or play dead).  Students adore this book!

Here's a video of Amanda Bynes reading this book for Storyline Online.  

After we practice Main Idea with fiction books, it's time to apply the skill to nonfiction.  I like using Rosie: A Visiting Dog's Story.  It's a book about a service dog that visits sick and lonely people to lift their spirits.  The main idea is clear and details are easy to locate.  

Finally, here are two graphic organizers for determining importance that you may want to check out.  :)

The Wild Rumpus

What are your favorite books or tips for teaching this comprehension skill?  I'd love to hear your ideas!  Leave a comment or link up with Emily to share your thoughts.  :)


  1. Wendy I love the two book choices you included! The Night I Followed the Dog looks hilarious! Including a link to the video was a nice touch. I am going to play it for my kids tomorrow if I get the time. Thank you for sharing all of this information.
    Burke's Special Kids

  2. AWESOME post Wendy! I am off to the Wild Rumpus blog to check it out. Thank you for linking up this week! :)
    Emily, TRT/OG