Another scaffolded strategy that supports this type of thinking involves having students read a text, and record what is important, what is interesting, and then their thoughts about why the details fell into each of the categories.
Once, when working with a third-grade student, he initially recorded the first sentence he read on the page into the “what is important” category.
His rationale was, it comes first on the page, so it must be important. The book was about the Blue Morpho Butterfly.
The sentence read, “Did you see that flash of blue in the forest?”
Through a think-aloud conversation, the small guided reading group was able to show this student that the sentence neither provided important information nor was an interesting fact.
We wrote in the reflection column, “the author wrote the first sentence to grab the reader’s attention.”
This conversation was a powerful model to the student about how to track the types of sentences an author includes in a text.
Then, through an analysis of the important facts, putting the interesting ideas in their own column, we were able to discern the central idea of the text.