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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 2

Expected time frame: 2-3 lessons

These learning activities are designed to further extend topic-specific vocabulary and meanings in context and to enable students to identify the main points and supporting details in an information text. The activities also encourage the use of prediction as a key pre-reading skill. It is important to share these language learning outcomes and to be explicit in the use of relevant terminology with your students.

ESOL US 2986 v7 performance criteria addressed:

1.1 Identify the main idea of the overall text using layout, and any headings, illustrations or diagrams.

1.2. Identify the main points and supporting detail in the text.

1.Identifying the main idea of a text

  • Give the students the text A Frozen Land (Word 80KB)
  • Ask students to read the title and look at the photographs for 10 seconds.
  • Ask students to cover the text and say what they think the overall text is about. Put the list of student suggestions for this main idea on the whiteboard.
  • Ask students how they decided on the main idea and list on the board aspects of the title and photographs – and any other features - which they used to predict content of the text.

2. Finding keywords

  • Ask students to search in pairs for the key words from learning task 1 and from the overall keywords for the unit and highlight these words.

3. Identifying main points and supporting details

  • Ask students (in pairs) to find and underline the main idea or point of each paragraph using A Frozen Land (Word 80KB) . Discuss the choices in class and generalisations formed about where main points / topic sentences often come in paragraphs.
  • Ask students to write out the headings below and record the words from the key word grid that match each heading:
    • climate or weather
    • resources
    • geography
    • flora and fauna / plants and animals
    • the size of Antarctica
    • people

Note: Some words may fit more than one heading.

  • Ask students to use the key word grid to write the paragraph number which has information about each heading. Discuss these headings in relation to the topic sentences / main points identified above. It is important that students understand the different functions performed by headings, which provide a general overview (e.g. Climate) and topic sentences / main points which make general statements – often interesting ones to engage the reader - upon which to hang more detail (e.g. Antarctica is the most inhospitable continent in the world).
  • Ask students to read the full text A Frozen Land (Word 80KB) and complete the 3 level guide (Word 41kb) .
  • Ask students (in pairs) to identify which of the true level 1 and 2 statements are main points and which are supporting details in the text. Ask them to explain how the details support the main points e.g. as an example, description or (further) explanation.
  • Student responses to Level 3 statements, which are more open-ended, could be used for class or group discussion and/or short paragraph writing exercises, as students have to justify their answers with reasons.
  • Ask students to complete the table of main points and supporting information.

Published on: 09 Jan 2018