Lesson plan

Power Reading

Help students learn how to read passages with multiple main ideas and differentiate between main ideas and supporting details by creating a graphic organizer with proof from the text.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Differentiating Main Ideas from Details pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Differentiating Main Ideas from Details pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to differentiate between the main idea and supporting details with evidence from the text.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Help remind students of what they have previously learned about a text's main idea and supporting details by asking them what they can recall. After a brief discussion, remind students that the main idea in a text is what the passage is mostly about and details are facts or evidence that support the main idea.
  • Inform students that sometimes passages have more than one main idea, so they need to know how to differentiate the main ideas and details in order to understand what they read.
  • Tell students that one way they can keep organized is to use power thinking.
  • Explain that power thinking is when one uses a simple graphic organizer where main ideas and details are assigned numbers. Main ideas are power 1 ideas, while details are powers 2, 3, or 4.
(10 minutes)
  • Write the following on the board:
     Power 1: Main Idea
          Power 2: Detail or support for a power 1
              Power 3: Detail or support for a power 2
  • Read the following paragraph to students: "Many people love to have animals as pets. Two of the most common animals to have as pets are cats and dogs. These animals are common because they provide the companionship and love people need. For example, did you know that Poodles and German Shepherds, although different breeds, are excellent at guarding their owners? This is why many people pick dogs to be their animal companions. Cats, on the other hand, are preferred by many because they are very independent and do not need as much attention as a dog. Siamese and Himalayan cats are two of the most common cats people choose as pets since they love both being around people as well as spending time on their own."
  • Show students words that you pulled out from the passage because they seemed important to understand the main idea. Have these words ready on index cards.
  • Read these words out loud to your students. Example words include "dogs," "Poodle," "German Shepherd," "cats," "Siamese," "Himalayan," and "animals."
  • Explain that the "animals" card must be a power of one because it is the broadest topic. Place "animals" next to "Power 1."
  • Explain that “Poodles" and "German Shepherds" are species of dogs, so the word "dogs" must be a power of 2. Place the word "dogs" on the board next to "Power 2."
  • Explain that this means that "Poodles" and "German Shepherds" must be powers of 3. Place these word cards next to "Power 3" on the board.
  • Ask students if they can figure out where the rest of your cards can go. Guide them so that they decide that "cats" is a power of 2 and "Siamese" and "Himalayan" are powers of 3. Place these cards on the board appropriately.
  • Your graphic organizer should now look something like this:
     Power 1: Animals
          Power 2: Dogs
               Power 3: Poodle, German Shepard
          Power 2: Cats
               Power 3: Siamese, Himalayan
  • Explain that looking at this graphic organizer tells you that the main idea of this passage is animals, like cats and dogs, and the supporting details talk about different types of cats and dogs.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out and project The History of Movies worksheet and read the passage aloud while students underline key words and phrases.
  • Help students create word cards that will help them find the main idea as well as supporting details by starting them off with "movies" as the first key term. Continue by asking for volunteers to add to your word cards. Word cards should include: "projectors," "zoopraxiscope," "moving," "silent movies," "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces," "sound," "talkie," "color," "The Wizard of Oz," "DVDs," "blu-rays," and "disc."
  • Create a graphic organizer using these words.
  • Your graphic organizer should now look something like this:
     Power 1: Movies
          Power 2: Moving
               Power 3: Zoopraxiscope
          Power 2: Silent
               Power 3: Musical, Talkie
          Power 2: Color
               Power 3: Wizard of Oz
          Power 2: DVD
               Power 3: Blu-ray, Disc
  • Ask students what the main idea of this passage is and what the supporting details are. Example answer: "The Main Idea is how movie making has changed throughout time, and the supporting details are the chronological progression of movies from the first films that were silent to color and sound to DVDs and Blue Rays today."
(25 minutes)
  • Set students up in groups of five and have them read a short passage. They should read the passage together and pull out words from the passage to create their own word cards. After they have their words they must work cooperatively to create their graphic organizer. On a separate sheet of paper they will write the main idea of the passage and the supporting details.
  • Distribute short passages and index cards to students.
  • Walk around assisting groups that need help.


  • For students who need a greater challenge, have them write a summary of the passage by using the graphic organizer.


  • For students who need support, assist them by identifying the power of 1 and allowing them to identify the powers of 2 and 3. Alternatively, you can identify the powers of 1 and 2 and have the student look for the power of 3.

Use of an interactive whiteboard or projector to project The History of Movies worksheet.

(10 minutes)
  • Review students' graphic organizers to check for understanding of the three power levels. For further assessment, students can complete their own graphic organizer for a grade.
(5 minutes)
  • Remind students that all informational text has a main idea that is backed by supporting details and that the graphic organizer is an important tool for understanding and summarizing a complicated passage.

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