For some students, we need to be very explicit about this thinking, making it visible and concrete for them. The BullsEye Strategy is one approach that has been successful for me.
- Draw 3 circles on the board, forming a target, and mark the inside circle 100, the middle circle 50 and the outer circle 25. The center circle should be large enough to accommodate just three paper darts or arrows.
- Ask students to talk with a partner about any connections they have to this image.
- Share the learning target for the day - I can evaluate the importance of ideas in a text and determine the most important.
- Give each student a paper arrow or dart. You can either preprint these (laminate if you will use again) or have students quickly cut an arrow shape from a sticky note.
- Tell students that you will read the text aloud. If they hear or see something that might be important, they are to raise their hand.
- Begin reading and call on a student to share the important idea. Have them write it on their paper arrow and ask them to come up to the target and place it where they think it belongs. (Students almost always place it in the center. Even if you disagree with their decision, leave it there so that they can have an “aha” moment in the next step.)
- Once the center is full, explain to students that not every idea can be the most important. Ask them to talk with peers about what to do, which one to move. Students will begin to re-evaluate and move ideas around as they accumulate more details on the arrows.
- When the section of reading is finished, review the three ideas in the center of the target. From these three, guide students to generate a main idea or topic.