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JMU Elementary Education Program

Main Idea Lesson with the Book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad
I chose to do a lesson involving main idea because when I talked to my CT about it she said
that is something that they have learned already and understand well. They have been covering
main idea for the past couple of weeks so I used this lesson as more of a review of the concept to
see what they have learned in class. This lesson was appropriate for them because they have
already had so much practice with it and I was no teaching them anything new.
Understand This book was about
Know After reading this book I
Alexander and how he was having a
want my students to understand what
horrible day and he did not think he
the main idea of this book was. I also
was going to get through it. It is about want them to tell me reasons/details
his entire day and how all he wants to about the main idea. For example the
do is move to Australia because he
main idea could be that Alexander
thinks it will be better there. The
was having a bad day I want them to
story ends with his mom talking to
be able to tell me reasons why he was
him that everybody has bad days and having a bad day.
it is part of life, and even if he moved
to Australia he could still have bad
days there.

Do I want my students to be able to

tell me verbally what the main idea
was and details/reasons why that was
the main idea and I will scribe them.

I want my students to say something along the lines of the main idea is . Because If they say
something like that than I will be able to tell that they understand what the main idea is and what the
main idea means.

Oral Language
1.1 The student will continue to demonstrate growth in the use of oral language.
e) Express ideas orally in complete sentences.

1.9 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of fictional texts.
h) Identify the main idea or theme.
Book (me)
Before reading this book to my students I am going to engage them by telling them I have a really
awesome story that I want to read to them. This will get them excited because usually during this time

they have to read on their own. I will take the 2-3 students outside so there is less distraction and the
other students in the class also do not get distracted. I will also ask them to explain to me what main
idea means in a book. We will have a small discussion about the main idea before I start reading the
book. During the book I am going to stop and ask questions like why do you think he is having a bad
day? Or has anything like this ever happened to you? This book also has a lot of challenging words
in it and places they might not know where they are. For instance, this books talks about Alexander
wanting to move to Australia on almost every page. So I am going to bring in a map of all the
countries and show them where we are and where Australia is so they can see how far away that
actually is. Once the book is finished I am going to ask them to describe to me what the main idea of
the whole book was. They will have to tell me that in a sentence with details as to why they think that
is the main idea.
In my classroom there is a wide variety of ability present making it hard to just have one way to teach
a lesson. For students who might have a higher ability instead of having them tell me the main idea
verbally and reasons why that is the main idea I could have them write me a sentence and for the
students who are a little lower I could have them tell me verbally. Also for higher level readers I could
have them read some of the book with me to keep them more engaged in the story, and for the lower
readers I could have them describe some of the pictures in the book to me.

There is a lot that could go wrong with my lesson plan. First the students might not like the book that I
chose. If that happens I will have to be more engaging with my voice and get them more involved in
reading it with me. My book is also a lot longer than I thought it was when I picked it so I might have
to pick out the pages I think are most important and skip the others since 1 st graders do not have a long
attention span.

For the read aloud assignment I had planned with my CT to create an activity involving the main idea
because this is a topic that they have been discussing and practicing for many weeks. My CT gave me
full control of the entire assignment so I got to choose any book I wanted. I decided to chose the book
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I chose this book
because I remember reading it as a child and loving it. I thought the students I choose for this
assignment would also love it too. My plan was to talk about the main idea and what that means with
the students first. Than I would start reading the book and stop periodically to ask them questions and
make sure they were understanding what they were reading, and once the book was finished I was
going to have them verbally tell me what the main idea of the story was and reason/details as to why
they think that. However, it did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped. At first they really liked it
and were excited because I told them I had something special for them. During this time they usually
have to read to themselves, but today I was going to take them in the hallway and read to them. Our
discussion about what the main idea went really well. Both students could tell me what it meant. They
both told me it was what the whole story was about. After that it started to go downhill. The book was
a lot longer than I remember it being and as I was reading it I could tell I was losing their attention. So
I started skipping a few pages to make it go a little faster. Also as I was reading one of the students
really wanted to help me read, which would have been fine any other day, but this particular day there
was a guest speaker so reading time was already cut short, but I did not want to tell her no completely.
So I let her read a little bit of it. This definitely slowed us down a lot. Once the book was finished I
started asking them about what they thought the main idea was and they both told me Alexander was
having a bad day. I thought great they understood the book this is perfect. I started asking them to
give me reasons why they thought that was the main idea and I got good reasons like he got gum
stuck in his hair and the elevator door closed on his foot. I really liked the answers that I was

getting and wanted to continue our conversation, but unfortunately we ran out of time and had to go
back to the classroom.
This activity showed me a lot about myself as a teacher. This was one of the first times that I
had to write a lesson plan and implement it all by myself. Although my CT helped me come up with
the idea for an activity she gave me full control with everything else. At first I thought this is great
there is so much I can do with this, but soon realized that it was a lot harder than I thought. Trying to
choose a book that I think the students will like, but also understand, and trying to decide if it was
developmentally appropriate for them was such a challenge. Although I found it really hard I think it
was a great learning opportunity for me to see just how much work goes into lesson planning and
deciding what you should teach to your students. Had my CT just told me the book to use it would
have been to easy and I would not have learned anything from it. My lesson did not go the way that I
wanted it to, but I got through it and the students had no idea that I did not do exactly what I had
planned. I think one of my strengths was being able to go with the flow a little. One of the students
that I choose really wanted to help me read the book and even though I knew we did not have enough
time for that I still encouraged her to help me because I did not want her to lose out on an opportunity
to grow as a reader. I think one of my weaknesses was the fact that we ran out of time. I think I should
have chosen to do this activity on a day where we werent going to have to end early so I could have
had the extra time just incase. In the future I plan on making sure that I will have enough time to do
my activities so I can truly know whether my students understand or not. I will also try and choose
books that are not as wordy and will keep everyones attention.
For my assessment I had my students verbally tell me what the main idea of the book was and
reasons as to why they thought that. I than scribed it and this is the short conversation that we had
about it. R is Rebecca, C is Carter, and M is Mikayla.
R: So what was the main idea of the story?
M: Alexander had a bad day?
R: Okay, and what do you think C?
C: Alexander had a bad day and wanted to move to Australia.
R: Why did he want to move to Australia?
M: Because he had a bad day?
R: What happened that makes you think he was having a bad day?
C: He got gum in his hair.
R: What do you think M?
M: His foot got stuck in the elevator.
This was all the time we had to talk about the main idea of the book because reading was shortened
that particular day. Overall, I believe that Carter and Mikayla have a very good understanding of what
main idea is and what it means. They could both tell me what they thought the main idea was and give
me reason why they thought that. In the future I hope to be able to have longer conversations about it
and use a different form of assessment other than just verbally telling me.