Learning the most basic unit in English Composition. First, write a topic sentence that summarizes your point. This is the first sentence of your paragraph. Next, write your argument, or why you feel the topic sentence is true. Finally, present your evidence (facts, quotes, examples, and statistics) to support your argument.
1. Main Ideas in Paragraphs (Getting the Big Ideas) Professor Karin S. Click on the button below to start the lesson.
2. WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? Do you know how to find the “big ideas” in paragraphs? Click below for next slide
3. These are the essential parts in paragraphs. Main Ideas Supporting Details Next slide
4. 3 Tips for Finding the Topic 1. Look for the subject of the first sentence. Subjects are nouns (persons, places, things, or ideas). 2. Look for a word or phrase that is frequently repeated or referred to. 3. Finally, ask: What do ALL the sentences in the paragraph deal with? Previous Next slide
5. Practice with Finding a Topic Read to find the topic in this paragraph: Does watching violence on TV make people more to violence themselves? Obviously, TV violence has negative effects. One study found that heavy TV are more fearful of others. They try to protect with guns, alarm systems, and security locks on doors. In the same study it was found that heavy TV watchers are less upset about Clickreal-life violence the forward than button to are picknon-TV a topic.watchers.
6. Click on the best topic for the previous paragraph. A. kids B. TV watching C. TV violence D. real-life violence eturn if you need to reread paragraph.
7. No, kids are only mentioned in the final sentence. “Kids” is not the topic of the entire paragraph. Click the back arrow and try again.
8. The paragraph does mention TV watching, but that is too broad a subject, since TV watchers can see both good and bad or violent Click on the back arrow and try
9. Right! The topic, TV violence, is mentioned in the first sentence and repeated throughout the paragraph. Click the forward arrow to see where the topi
10. No, the entire paragraph is not dealing with “real-life violence”; it is only mentioned in one Click the back arrow and try again.
11. Finding a Topic Does watching violence on TV make people more prone to violence themselves? Obviously, TV violence has some negative effects. One study found that heavy TV watchers are more fearful of others. They attempt to protect themselves with guns, alarm systems, and security locks on doors. In the same study it was found that heavy TV watchers are less upset about real-life violence than are non-TV watchers. All of the violence they see on TV makes them less sensitive to the real thing. A recent study also that TV violence increases aggressive behavior in kids and makes them more that the subject of the 1st sentence is Notice likely to select toy guns rather than other kinds of toys. repeated throughout the paragraph, and ALL sentences in the paragraph deal with “TV violence.”
12. Difficulties in Identifying Topics Sometimes the topic is not the subject of the first sentence. Sometimes the topic is not repeated. So, if the first 2 strategies don’t help, here are steps to take: Look at the nouns within the paragraph. Ask: What general term includes all or most of The general noun is probably the topic.
13. Practice—Read this paragraph. 1Police officers complain that they arrest perpetrators who are soon let out on the street. 2Judges argue that they are bound by laws that force them to free defendants, some of whom may be guilty as charged, on technicalities. 3Government officials worry that they don’t have the funds or space to construct new prisons. 4In addition, many citizens claim that either the police, the judges, or the government—or all of the above—are not doing their jobs. 5Clearly, the way the huge problem of crime is being handled angers and frustrates many segments of our society. What noun suggests the general idea in the paragraph? Click the forward button to find out!!!
14. Now look at the paragraph again! 1Police officers complain that they arrest perpetrators who are soon let out on the street. 2Judges argue that they are bound by laws that force them to free defendants, some of whom may be guilty as charged, on technicalities. 3Government officials worry that they don’t have the funds or space to construct new prisons. 4In addition, many citizens claim that either the police, the judges, or the government—or all of the above—are not doing their jobs. 5Clearly, the way the huge problem of crime is being handled angers and frustrates many segments of our society. All of these nouns, plus other words like “arrest” and CRIME “guilty” suggest that is the overall topic.
15. To Remember the Strategies-- Use FiRST This mnemonic (memory trick) will help you recall the strategies for identifying topics of paragraphs. F is for subject of the First sentence. R is for a Repeated word or phrase. ST means that all sentences deal with the Same
16. Check your memory! See if you can write from memory the 3 strategies for identifying the topic of a paragraph. Write them on your own paper. Then click on the return button to see if you were correct.
17. Recognizing a Main Idea Also called controlling idea, central thought, or gist Called a thesis when referring to a passage or long selection May be stated or unstated (implied) When stated in a sentence (s) by the author, the main idea is expressed in the topic
18. Stated Main Ideas—Tips for Finding Topic Sentences The most common place to find the stated main idea sentence) in non-fiction material is in the first The second most common place for a stated main of aisparagraph. idea in A the lastsentence topic sentenceisofaageneral non-fiction paragraph. or summary A brief statement that ends in a plural noun may be used as a topic sentence.
19. Keep these suggestions in mind. The topic sentence must include the topic within it. A topic sentence must NOT include details; it is a A sentence. topic sentence must NOT contain transitions (terms “for instance,” “second,” “in addition”) which suggest A topic sentence may end in a plural noun or contain a A noun that isthat sentence a general termby is followed forathe supporting statement withdetails. a term is NOT the topic sentence.
20. Which of the following could be good topic sentences? (Click on each of your choices.) A. Students go to college for many reasons. B. Twenty-five students reported having their boo ks stolen last semester. C. For smokers and their families, smoking has ma ny negative health effects. D. You can protect your home from burglary by ta king several precautions. E. The second way to improve your grades is to ta ke extensive lecture notes. F. Be sure you find all 4 correct answers before There are clicking theseveral steps you should forward take arrow before for the
21. Yes, this sentence is general and suggests that specific reasons will be given as supporting details. It ends in the plural noun “reasons.” Return to
22. No, this statement is too specific. It mentions a specific number of students. It seems to be a detail. Return to
23. Yes, this sentence is general and suggests that specific effects of smoking will be given as details to support it. The sentence ends with a plural noun, “effects.” Return to question.
24. Correct! The statement indicates that some specific precautions against burglars will be listed and discussed as supporting details. It ends with the plural word “precautions.” Return to question.
25. No, this sentence appears to be a specific detail. The word “second” suggests that a first detail has already been given and a third will likely follow it. You should be careful. The sentence ends in the plural word “notes,” but that is not always proof the sentence is a general one. Return to
26. Yes, this statement mentions “steps” and indicates that the paragraph that includes it will provide specific steps for the home seller to take. This time the plural word “steps” is not at the end of the sentence, but it does point Return to to specific details to follow.
27. A Topic Sentence May Be Thought of as an “Umbrella” Statement Main Idea supporting details The other sentences are covered or included under heading of the main idea. Supporting details
28. Sample Paragraph Topic Sentence is Highlighted 1The high cost of college causes many problems students today. 2For one thing, it keeps some students from attending college in the first place. 3Also, high tuitions affect the amount of time available for study. 4Because loans and scholarships are not easy to get, many students have put the paragraph carefully. Note the topic. inThen ask: hours at work in order to afford an numerous How do you know the first sentence is the topic
29. How can you recognize a topic sentence in this paragraph? 1The high cost of college causes many problems for students today. 2For one thing, it keeps some students from attending college in the first place. 3Also, high tuitions affect the amount of time available for study. 4Because loans and scholarships are not easy to get, many students have to put in numerous hours at work in order to afford an education. 5Finally, those who do manage to get loans know they must begin their careers with largefirst The debts. sentence includes the topic, “the high cost of The first sentence is general; it is an “umbrella The first sentence contains a plural noun, “problems,” then the other sentences name specific problems. Other sentences in the paragraph use transitions, such as “also” and “finally,” which point to details. They
30. Practice with Finding a Stated Main Idea (Topic Sentence) Select the topic sentence in this paragraph; click on your choice 1 Cocaine is considered today to be both a major social and medical problem. 2Just a century ago, however, cocaine was treated as a harmless stimulant and cure-all. 3Scientists, such as Sigmund Freud, freely used cocaine. 4Coca Cola’s original formula actually included three parts coca leaves (the source of cocaine) to one part cola nut. 5Coca Cola was originally advertised as a delicious drink as well as a medicine to “cure all nervous afflictions.” What 6 It was often prescribed for headaches, depression, and is the number of the topic sentence ? many other ills. A. Sentence 1 B. Sentence 2 C. Sentence 4 D. Sentence 5
31. Incorrect. The topic is “cocaine,” but the first sentence is concerned with how cocaine is viewed today. There are no details to support that cocaine is a major problem today. Click on the back arrow and try again. Return to question.
32. That’s right. The second sentence contrasts with the first, so it does not support the first. All the sentences after sentence 2 give details to prove that cocaine was considered harmless over a century ago. Click the back arrow to reread the paragraph or the forward arrow to continue. Remember this: If the second sentence of a uses a contrast term, the first sentence is NOT the sentence. In other words, the second sentence is showing the author is changing direction.
33. Incorrect. Sentence 4 is a detail giving the original formula for Coca Cola. It is not the overall idea of the paragraph. Click the back arrow and try again. Return to question.
34. Incorrect. The fifth sentence is giving a specific detail. It helps to prove that cocaine was considered to be a cure-all for many health problems. Click on the back arrow and try again. Return to question.
35. Steps for Recognizing an Implied Main Idea Read the entire paragraph. Decide what the topic is. Ask: What is the general idea that all the sentences seem to support? Mentally compose a sentence that seems to summarize all that the paragraph has to say about the topic. mainthe best idea youparaphrase of that sentence. choose should 1) be a complete sentence, 2) include the topic of the paragraph, and 3) avoid specific details.
36. Practicing Implied Main Ideas Read to discover the implied main idea in this paragraph: 1 College students must attend classes for several hours each day. 2When in class, they must listen carefully to their professors and take careful notes. 3In addition, students must spend many hours reading difficult textbooks that deal with many varied subjects. Furthermore, college students must take a few hours daily to complete homework and to prepare for regular exams. 5Besides all this, they must Click do on the research forward papers button and write to select the best essays. statement of the implied main idea for this paragraph.
37. The best statement of the implied main idea for the previous paragraph is: 1. Taking notes is a difficult task for many students. 2. College students have to do a lot of homework. 3. Tests and research are very important requirements for college students. 4. College students must spend much time doing everything that is required of them. eturn to reread paragraph, if necessary
38. “Taking notes is a difficult task for many students.” Incorrect! Taking notes is only one of many tasks that are mentioned. It is not a general statement. Also, since the topic, “college students,” is not named in the sentence, it cannot be a main idea statement. Click the return arrow to reread the paragraph.
39. “College students have to do a lot of homework.” Incorrect. This statement does not summarize the paragraph because some of the details included in the paragraph, such as taking notes in classes, is not a part of homework. Click the return arrow to reread the paragraph.
40. “Tests and research are very important requirements for college students.” Incorrect. “Tests” and “research” are specific details about what is expected of college students. It is not a general statement of the main idea. Click on the back arrow to reread the paragraph.
41. “College students must spend much time doing everythin that is required of them.” Good! This is the best main idea statement. Many time- consuming tasks are mentioned as being requirements for college students: attending classes, taking notes, reading textbooks, doing homework, studying for exams, writing essays, and doing research.
42. REVIEW QUIZ Click on True or False for each statement 1) True False All sentences in a paragraph must have something 2) True False toAnother do with name the topic. for a main idea is the controlling idea. 3) True False Every paragraph must have a topic sentence. 4) True False A contrast word in the second sentence may False 5) True help theThe reader maininidea selecting the topic of a longer sentence. passage is often called a thesis.
43. Excellent! Return to complete the quiz. Return to
44. Sorry. Any sentence that doesn’t deal with the topic belongs in a different paragraph. Return to the quiz to try the other questions. Return to
45. Yes, the main idea can also be called the central thought or gist. Go back to complete the quiz. Return to
46. Incorrect. There are several names for the main idea. “Controlling thought” is one of them. Return to complete the quiz. Return to
47. Wrong! If a paragraph has an unstated main idea, it has no topic sentence. Click to return to finish the quiz. Return to
48. You are absolutely correct! Go back to complete the quiz. Return to quiz
49. Right! If the second sentence uses a contrast term (but, however, although, on the other hand, etc.), it indicates that the author is contradicting, not supporting, what was said in the first sentence. The second sentence may be the topic sentence, but the Return to first sentence will not be. Click the arrow to return to the quiz.
50. Incorrect! If the second sentence contradicts the first, the reader knows that the first sentence is not the topic sentence. Now go back to complete the quiz. Return to quiz.
51. Well done! You have another correct response, and you have completed the quiz. You have learned much about topics and main ideas. Your new skill will help you learn from your textbooks and pass the State Exit Exam in Reading.
52. Incorrect. The main idea of an essay or long article is usually called the thesis. You have completed the quiz. You may wish to return to the quiz to try the questions aga After a review of this short quiz, ask the lab assistant for a copy of the post-test to show what you have learned! Return to quiz HAPPY READING!!