Tips and Tricks for Working On Main Idea in Speech Therapy

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Have speech students with main idea goals?  Here are some fun ways to work on it so they can be successful!

Main idea is one of the trickier reading strategies for students to master. This blog post shares a plethora of tips and tricks for working on main idea in speech therapy. Click through to read the whole post!

 

Why do we work on main idea in speech?

Main idea?  Isn't that a reading comprehension skill?  Yes, but it is also very much language based.  In order for a student to be able to comprehend and express the main idea, they must have intact lexical and syntactical knowledge.  They need to be able to express a complete sentence.  They need to be able to respond to WH questions.  They need to know the vocabulary of the question asked and of the passage presented.  See?  It is very much a language activity!

For an expository text, these strategies may include previewing the passage for its likely content, monitoring comprehension by asking oneself questions about the passage, finding the main idea, and summarizing the key points in one's own words (Boardman, Scornavacco, & Klinger, 2013).

That is why it is recommended to teach students to use reading comprehension strategies by modeling it, teaching it one at a time, present it to them in small groups, provide guided practice, and have discussions about the material.   However, for students with difficulties with lexical and syntactical development, finding the main idea or summarizing key points will be extremely difficult.  Both of these strategies assume that students can comprehend at the sentence level.  Students should work on these skills in order to be able to be successful with a reading comprehension strategy of main idea, which is expected of them when they read expository text in the academic classroom.

Evidence shows that SLPs should work on comprehending the sentence level, increase amount of sentences, and then introduce concepts like main idea.  Students need to comprehend what sentences are about explicitly before they can name topics or express the gist of it all.  (Nippold, 2017).

Where should we begin when working on main idea in speech?

I like to start at the picture level, then sentence level, then paragraph level, and finally, the story level.  If they cannot express in one sentence the main idea of a picture, they won't be able to do so of a story (even though they might be expected to in their classrooms!).

I like to use the idea of an umbrella to teach main idea because it makes it visual for our students to comprehend.  An umbrella covers your head and the main idea covers the whole story.

Main idea is one of the trickier reading strategies for students to master. This blog post shares a plethora of tips and tricks for working on main idea in speech therapy. Click through to read the whole post!

I also like to do sorting activities to help my students comprehend that the details have to go with the main idea.  If they can't “see” it during sorting activities, they won't be able to express a main idea independently.

Main idea is one of the trickier reading strategies for students to master. This blog post shares a plethora of tips and tricks for working on main idea in speech therapy. Click through to read the whole post!

Once they understand what a main idea is and that details have to support it, we will move onto sentence level and paragraph level.  For my students that struggle to express a main idea in complete sentences, I teach my students this strategy: “who was the story about” and “what happened to them.”    I was so excited to hear so many of you use this strategy too when I asked in my Instagram story!

Main idea is one of the trickier reading strategies for students to master. This blog post shares a plethora of tips and tricks for working on main idea in speech therapy. Click through to read the whole post!

When we get to the story level, I have my students continue to break stories into different paragraphs and just express main ideas of each paragraph first, then come up with one main idea based on all the ones they came up with.  This also helps eliminate overwhelm!  For more information on this strategy CLICK HERE!

Main idea is one of the trickier reading strategies for students to master. This blog post shares a plethora of tips and tricks for working on main idea in speech therapy. Click through to read the whole post!

Want even more main idea strategies and activities?  Check out this DIY idea by clicking HERE!

To check out the Main Idea Umbrella strategy pack in my TpT store CLICK HERE!

Want to try it out first?  Click the button below to try out a sample of this pack!!

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