Reader's Workshop: Determining Importance

Mini LessonsFrontloadingFix-Up StrategiesConnectingVisualizing

QuestioningDeter. ImportanceInferringSynthesizing

Deciding what's important is a skill that's necessary to have in life.  When packing for a trip, planning a party, choosing details for a story, or reading to learn/enjoy, determining importance comes into play throughout the day!  In this unit, students begin by learning/noticing that we decide importance throughout our day.  We transfer this knowledge to reading and participate in lessons that help us understand the difference between main ideas and supporting details.  The unit focuses on both fiction and nonfiction texts.  Students learn about the differences and similarities in both by focusing on how each is organized.  A big part of the unit is determining author's purpose.

As you read through the minilessons you'll notice that there aren't many book-specific lessons.  Instead, I try to focus on getting the main bones/structure of the Determining Importance process down, and then the knowledge we have about Determining Importance can be applied to any book we are reading independently, in partnerships, or in small groups throughout the year.

  • Reading Strategies Scope and Sequence: 

  • Reading Strategies Posters: 

  • Determining Importance Mini Lessons  

  • Show and Share Recording Sheet

Check out our Nonfiction Text Features project!


One of our reading groups spent two weeks in February working on a project.  They used the informational texts from our class' study of penguins to learn about Nonfiction Text Features.  Students:

  1. Scoured informational texts, looking for nonfiction text features
  2. Tagged nonfiction text features, using Post-It notes
  3. Discussed the purpose of nonfiction text features
  4. Compared and contrasted nonfiction text features
  5. Created a list of nonfiction text features
  6. Defined the "role" or "job" of each type of nonfiction text feature
  7. Took pictures of nonfiction text feature examples
  8. Inserted pictures into Movie Maker
  9. Added transitions between pictures in Movie Maker
  10. Worked collaboratively to draft the text for the movie
  11. Self-selected 2-3 nonfiction text feature types to narrate
  12. Narrated (voice recording) the movie
  13. Shared the final product with the rest of the class