Elementary School Lesson Plan: Understanding Main Idea and Finding
Word Meaning in Context
From the classroom of Traci Jones Rottman, 3rd Grade Teacher and
Certified Reading Specialist at North Topsail Elementary School in
Hampstead, North Carolina.
Main Goal: For students to become fluent readers who can problem solve
strategically and read independently and silently.
Lesson Objective: Through a series of guided reading sessions I will reinforce
the skills main idea and finding word meaning in context to enhance reading
Time: Three twenty-five minute sessions while others are involved in learning
centers or reading independently.
Differentiated instruction is critical to student success in reading. One way to
differentiate is to implement guided reading lessons several times a week. The
following guided reading lesson reinforces the strategies of understanding main
idea and finding word meaning in context. Students should be differentiated with
books appropriate for their reading level.
First 25-minute session:
1. Spark students’ interest by showing them the front cover of the book. Ask
students to predict what the main idea is by using picture clues and the title.
2. Choose 4-5 vocabulary words that are important to the text. Students will try
to guess the words and make a prediction about what the story will be about. On
a dry-erase mini board, write the following with the vocabulary words:
Clue 1 is a four-letter word in this story.
Clue 2 is a four-letter word that begins with the letter r. (Uncover one letter at
a time. Allow time for students to try to guess the word).
3. After discussing the vocabulary words and how they relate to the main idea,
students will take a picture walk looking for the vocabulary words in the book.
Explain to students that the context of the story can be used to determine the
meaning of words. Write the sentence with the vocabulary word on a sentence
strip. “X” out the unknown word. Read the sentence together leaving out the
vocabulary word. Ask the students to think of a word or synonym that makes
sense in the sentence.
Optional (to use with students are below level): Have students fold a paper into
four squares, writing one word in each box. After using the above strategy,
students will draw a picture to help them remember the new word.
4. Read the book aloud with students. Have students listen for vocabulary
words as the book is read.
For the next two sessions:
Have students choose another book from their level and follow the same lesson
plan. This time, have students work with a table partner. One partner chooses
4-5 vocabulary words and then uses the Clue game to introduce the words to
their partner. The students use the context clue strategy taught earlier to figure
out the meaning of the word. Finally, they read the book aloud together for text