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Topics and Main Ideas By Tammi Naumann What is a topic? "A topic is a word or phrase that tells what the author is writing about in a paragraph." (from.

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Presentation on theme: "Topics and Main Ideas By Tammi Naumann What is a topic? "A topic is a word or phrase that tells what the author is writing about in a paragraph." (from."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Topics and Main Ideas By Tammi Naumann

3 What is a topic? "A topic is a word or phrase that tells what the author is writing about in a paragraph." (from Opening Doors, p.191) "The topic of a passage is a word or phrase that labels the subject but does not reveal the specific contents of the passage." (from Bridging the Gap: College Reading, p.124

4 To find the topic of a paragraph or passage, ask yourself: Who or what is this paragraph about?

5 Clues to Topic Location The topic can... Appear as a heading or title: Doing Business and Learning About a Culture Through Its Language (p.192 from Opening Doors) Appear in special type such as bold print, italics, or color: "A felony is a serious crime... A misdemeanor is a minor offense,..." (p.193 from Opening Doors)

6 Be repeated throughout the paragraph: "Claustrophobia. Acrophobia. Xenophobia. Although these sound like characters in a Greek tragedy, they are actually members of a class of psychological disorders known as phobias...." (p.193 from Opening Doors) "Before the age of 13, Isaac Newton had invented the mathematical methods... His was a lonely... His father died..., and after his mother remarried, he was raised by... In 1661, he was admitted to Cambridge University,..." (pp from Opening Doors) Appear once and then referred to by pronouns or other words

7 "Topics are general categories, like titles, but they are not main ideas." (from Bridging the Gap: College Reading, p.124) What is the topic for each set of items? 1) shirt, pants, jacket, sweater CLOTHES 2) history, reading, math, English COURSES

8 3) Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia STATES 4) corn, peas, oranges, apples FRUITS AND VEGETABLES 5) basketball, volleyball, baseball, hockey SPORTS What is the topic for each set of items?

9 What is a stated main idea? "A stated main idea is the sentence in a paragraph that contains both the topic and the authors single most important point about the topic." (p.172, Opening Doors) "The main idea of a passage is the central message that the author is trying to convey about the material." (p.122, Bridging the Gap: College Reading)

10 To find the main idea of a paragraph or passage, ask yourself: What is the most important point the author wants me to understand about the topic?

11 Where can the main idea appear in a paragraph? At the beginning of the paragraph At the end of the paragraph Within the paragraph

12 At the beginning of the paragraph: "Beginning a new job is always exciting and sometimes intimidating. There is an invigorating feeling of a fresh start and a clean slate. You face new challenges and draw on a renewed sense of energy as you approach them. But you may also feel apprehensive... " (p.196, Opening Doors)

13 At the end of the paragraph:...Most Anglo-Americans, for instance, see the extensive family obligations of Hispanics as a burdensome arrangement that inhibits individual freedom. Hispanics, in contrast, view the isolated nuclear family of Anglo-Americans as a lonely institution that cuts people off from the love and assistance of their kin. This tendency to view one's own cultural patterns as good and right and those of others as strange or even immoral is called ethnocentrism." (p.197, Opening Doors)

14 Within the paragraph: " Jim always seems to score well on tests. How does he do it? Jim offers these tips for successful studying. The first step is to decide what to study. Find out what topics will be covered on the test. Next, organize your notes and other materials on these topics. Third, make study guides to use as memory aids. Your final step is to review your notes and study guides until you feel confident about taking the test." (from Becoming a Confident Reader, p.200)

15 "All organisms must insure that their offspring have a reasonable chance to survive and begin a new generation. Plants, however, face special challenges. Plants do not have nervous systems, and they are not able to run away from predators or pests. Because nearly all plants live in fixed positions, they must also manage to find mates without being able to move around. Therefore they have evolved strategies for dealing with these problems that are essentially passive. An important part of such strategies is a reproductive pattern enabling each individual to produce large numbers of offspring." (Levine and Miller, Biology, 1991)

16 Where is the main idea located? " Plants, however, face special challenges. " Within the paragraph (second sentence): What is the most important point the author wants you to know about plants?

17 "Taking vitamins may be beneficial to your health for several reasons. For one thing, vitamins provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in your diet. Also, some vitamins may reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. Finally, vitamins may increase your energy and improve your well-being." (from Becoming a Confident Reader, p.161)

18 Where is the main idea located? At the beginning of the paragraph: "Taking vitamins may be beneficial to your health for several reasons." What is the most important point the author wants you to know about vitamins?

19 "Within the organization, information may be transmitted from superiors to subordinates (downward communication), from subordinates to superiors (upward communication), among people at the same level on the organizational chart (horizontal communication), and among people in different departments within the organization (cross-channel communication). These four types of communication make up the organization's formal communication network." (Ober, Contemporary Business Communications, 1995)

20 What is the most important point the author wants you to know about formal communication network? Where is the main idea located? At the end of the paragraph: "These four types of communication make up the organization's formal communication network."

21 Summary A topic is a word or phrase that tells what the author is writing about in a paragraph clues to find topic are topic as heading or title topic in special type topic repeated in paragraph topic appears once and then referred to by pronouns or other words

22 Summary A stated main idea is sentence in a paragraph that expresses the most important point about the topic a main idea can be located at the beginning of the paragraph at the end of the paragraph within the paragraph

23 Bibliography Cortina, Joe and Janet Elder. (2002). Opening Doors: Understanding College Reading. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Kanar, Carol. (2000). Becoming a Confident Reader. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Smith, Brenda. (2000). Bridging the Gap: College Reading. New York: Longman.

24 Thank you to the following: My students in READ-D01, D02, P16, & P36


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