Teaching Main Idea and Detail

In the Common Core Standards, the first two standards under ELA-Literacy, within both the literature and informational text reading, address learning “Key Ideas and Details.” (I will discuss ELA-Literacy Standard 3 under Inferencing).

Identifying key ideas and details skill can prove difficult for a student with ASD due to weak central coherence not facilitating the recognition of main ideas versus details in a text.

Teachers can support high functioning autistic students’ abilities to strengthen central coherence by teaching these students how the details relate to a larger whole.

It again requires explicit practice with the teacher, in learning how authors leave “clues” about the main idea in the details about which they write.

Guided reading is probably the best vehicle for this type of instruction.

Not only is the teacher, as a more knowledgeable other, guiding students where they need direct instruction, there is power in peers modeling for the student with ASD the type of thinking and responding that needs to take place in order to successfully identify main/central idea versus details within a text.

This is true of all types of comprehension instruction.

There is a great deal of power in having the teacher target a student’s specific instructional needs in a small group setting while including peers who bring a diverse comprehension skill set to the conversation.

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