02.01 Identifying Key Ideas & Details in Reading

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Included In This Lesson



  1. Identifying Key Ideas & Details in Reading
    1. Using summarizing and paraphrasing can help simplify complex text
    2. Drawing conclusions
      1. Identify the logical conclusion
        1. May be directly stated
        2. Utilize implications made by the author
      2. Identify topic & main ideas
        1. Look for topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs/sections
      3. Identify supporting details for each
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Hello and welcome to this lesson on Identifying Key Ideas and details in reading.

One of the best ways to discuss the main idea or specific details in reading is by summarizing or paraphrasing that which you are reading. And I think sometimes these words are used interchangeably but they are different. When you write a summary about a passage or text you are usually writing a short statement about the main points of the text. It is selective and condenses the text. Paraphrasing is usually longer than a summary and requires a careful rewording of the text. It is specific and clarifies what was read. Creating either a summary or a paraphrase would be an excellent want to identify key ideas or details about a text.

And sometimes getting to the main idea of a text might require making inferences or drawing conclusions. Sometimes the conclusion is directly state and very logical, other times you might have to dig deep and pull out implications made by the author of the text.  We do this a lot in our day to day living. For example, if you were presented with this graph you might spend some time analyzing the said graph and draw some conclusions about what it might mean. 

Another example is when we meet others or observe those around us (whether in real life or on social media), we make observations and tend to draw conclusions… like in this image above with a young woman wearing 2 necklaces. When might draw the conclusion that she is a cardiac nurse by analyzing the detailed human heart necklace. We might also conclude she goes to church as it looks like a religious medal. The same critical thinking and skills of inferring must be applied to when we read text. Sometimes it is obvious, other times we might need to order or rely on our experiences and background knowledge.

And research shows the more we read the better we get at inferring what might have been said. So let’s attempt to infer what might have been said in this passage missing several words after the first two sentences.

One great technique for summarizing is to first find a sentence with the main topic. Second find the most important point that supports the main topic and lastly, you can combine those two and you will have a brief summary of what was read.

So let’s practice this. Let’s read this out loud together and see if we can find the main topic sentence and the most important point.

So in summary, identifying key ideas requires drawing conclusions, that are sometimes logical and stated and at other instances might need to be inferred. Paraphrasing can be done to capture key ideas by rewording the text and clarifying it. Additionally, a summary can be written that is a short statement about the main points of the text. A nice way to summarize is to find the main topic sentence and the most important point and combine it.

This concludes our lesson on identifying key ideas and details in reading. Now go out and be your best self today and happy nursing!

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