Main Idea/Big Idea/Main Topic….Add any other terms you have heard for this concept. It is not only a very difficult concept to teach readers, but it is also important to know the differences between the terms and how the CCSS uses the terms.
Main Topic – This term is used in K and 1 in the CCSS and many lower level books have main topics as opposed to main ideas. Think of lower level nonfiction texts that are about a topic that is often their title. The book “Sharks” – the main topic of this books is simply “sharks”.
Main Idea is more complex. The main idea of the book “Sharks” could be “Sharks are not that dangerous to people, people are more dangerous to sharks”. The main idea, is an actual idea that can be supported with text evidence.
Keep in mind the lower level books may not have a main idea, they often only have a main topic. Once kids start moving into books with main ideas, get ready to teach them some strategies to find these ideas in their books.