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Welcome to “Main Ideas,” the first chapter in Ten Steps to Advanced Reading.
Let's get right to the heart of the matter.
What do you need to know to become a good reader
and a good thinker?
Here's the answer.
You need to understand the difference between point and support.
Here's a cartoon that will help explain what I mean:
What is the POINT of the cartoon? And what is the SUPPORT?
As you may quickly realize, the point is that the couple has marriage problems.
There are three statements that support the point.
One: He likes to spend money; she likes to save it.
Two: He is a night person; she is a day person.
Three: He likes sports; she hates them.
Given the support provided, we can understand the lighthearted point
that the couple has marriage problems.
This cartoon and the one in Ten Steps to Advanced Reading on page 23
help us understand the difference between point and support.
What good readers do when they read something is that they look for points and support for
those points. When you learn how to do this,
you've taken the single most important step to becoming a good reader.
What is a point? A point is an idea or opinion.
What is support? Support is the evidence that backs up this opinion.
Let's see an example of a point.
Look at these two sentences: My car is a Ford.
My car is a lemon.
Which one of these statements expresses an idea or opinion?
Which one is just a fact?
You probably realized right away that “My car is a Ford” just expresses a fact.
On the other hand, “My car is a lemon” expresses a point—
a point that could be supported with examples and reasons and details.
Maybe the transmission is bad, the engine overheats,
the car shakes and rattles, the gas mileage is terrible, and so on.
Now to sharpen your sense of point and support, look at this group of four sentences.
You should not put your hand into that box.
Inside the box are freshly cut leaves of poison ivy.
A loaded mousetrap is inside, ready to spring.
A flesh-eating spider the size of a large crab just crawled into the box.
In this group, what is the point and what is the support for the point?
Take a minute to consider the items.
You probably figured out that the first sentence is the point—
you should not put one's hand into the box. And then we get three very convincing bits
of support that back up that point and help us realize
that it's definitely not a good idea to put one's
hand into the box.
And here's another group of sentences. Again, take a minute to pick out the point
and the support for that point.
When you are in a theater, you sometimes have to put up with rude people and crying children.
At home, you can “pause” a movie when you leave the room to get a snack.
It's more enjoyable to watch movies at home than in a theater.
It's relaxing to watch movies in your pajamas while sitting in your favorite chair.
In this group, the point is that movies are more fun to watch at home than in a theater.
The point is backed up by three reasons that support the point about the advantages of
watching movies at home. You don't have to deal with rudeness or
crying children; you can put a movie on hold while getting a snack.
You can be comfortable in your pajamas and favorite chair.
In a nutshell, if you understand the difference between point and support, you're on your
way to becoming a better reader. Let's take a look now at a paragraph.
Let's read it and see if you can identify what is the author's point in the paragraph
and what is the author's support for that point.
People lie for different reasons. One common reason is to avoid hurting someone's feelings.
For example, a friend might ask,
“Do you like my new haircut?” If you think it's ugly, you might still
answer something like, “I really do.”
Another common reason for lying is to avoid a fight.
Say a friend angers you and then asks, “Are you upset with me?”
You might answer, “No,” to avoid an argument.
People also lie so that they'll fit in, as when you listen to a boring person and
politely say, “That's so interesting.”
Finally, people lie to avoid spending more
time with someone. For instance, you might lie,
“I have to go now.”
What sentence is the point that is supported by the other sentences in the paragraph?
Take a minute to decide.
Now let's look at an outline of the paragraph.
An outline is a helpful way to show at a glance
the point of a paragraph and its support.
Point: People lie for different reasons.
Supporting detail 1: To avoid hurting feelings.
Supporting detail 2: To avoid a fight.
Supporting detail 3: To fit in.
Supporting detail 4: To avoid spending time with someone.
As you may have realized, the point is that people lie for a variety of reasons.
The outline provides an x-ray of the paragraph— showing the point and listing the supporting
details for the point— the different reasons why people lie.
Now let's do one added paragraph. Again, see if you can pick out the point and
its support.
Certain basic fears are part of our lives. For one thing, we fear being disrespected.
Bullies play on this fear. They cruelly tease their victims and take
away their self-respect. And we feel disrespected when someone doesn't
return our phone calls or walks past us without saying hello.
Another of our deepest fears is being alone. We all know in our hearts that we need each other
Not having other people in our lives makes
us feel empty inside. A third basic fear, once we become adults,
is growing older. Every year, many Americans use plastic surgery
to try to turn back the clock. And our magazines and TV shows and movies
are full of beautiful young people. We do not want to be reminded that the clock
keeps ticking.
You're probably getting better at this. And you've probably noticed that most of
the time, the point is at or near the beginning of the
paragraph. In this case, as you may have guessed,
it's at the very start. Look at the outline.
Point: Certain basic fears are part of our lives.
Supporting detail: 1. We fear being disrespected.
Supporting detail: 2. We fear being alone.
Supporting detail: 3. We fear growing old.
The outline provides an x-ray of the paragraph— showing the point—that certain basic fears
are part of our lives— and then listing three specific basic and
very human fears that back up the point. We almost all fear being disrespected,
being alone, and growing old.
Now let's summarize what we've covered in this video:
A good reader looks for an author's point and the support for that point.
The point of a paragraph or reading selection is also known as the main idea.
The terms “point” and “main idea” mean the same thing.
A good reader x-rays a reading selection by asking, “What is the point (main idea)?
What is the support for the point (main idea).
So we've gotten to the heart of the matter— to become an effective reader, you need to
understand the relationship between POINT and SUPPORT.
When you read something, ask “What is the point of this selection?” and “What support
is offered for the point. Point and support are at the heart of all
the practice you will do in the main ideas chapter in Ten Steps to Advanced Reading.
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Lesson 1 - Main Ideas

56 Folder Collection
Suralily published on September 6, 2019
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