Stage 5 reading - Main idea and theme

Learning intention

Students will learn to identify the main idea and theme in a range of texts.

Syllabus outcome

  • EN5-2A: effectively uses and critically assesses a wide range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing a wide range of texts in different media and technologies
  • EN5-3B: selects and uses language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts, describing and explaining their effects on meaning
  • EN5-4B: effectively transfers knowledge, skills and understanding of language concepts into new and different contexts.

National Literacy Learning Progression

Understanding texts

  • UnT9:identifies the main themes or concepts in moderately complex texts (comprehension); summarises the text identifying key details (comprehension); selects reading/viewing pathways appropriate to reading purpose (scans text for key phrase or close reading for learning) (process)
  • UnT10: synthesises information from a variety of complex texts (comprehension); reads and views moderately complex or some sophisticated texts - see text complexity) (comprehension)
  • UnT11: derive a generalisation from abstract ideas in texts (comprehension)
  • identifies relevant and irrelevant information in texts (process)

NAPLAN item descriptors

The relevant NAPLAN item descriptors are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

Task outline

Full task descriptions are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

Finding the main idea

Students apply the ‘Gather, Identify, Summarise, Top and tail’ (GIST) process to identify the main idea in a range of informative, persuasive and imaginative texts.


Students explore theme in texts and how theme may complement the main idea of the text.

Compare and contrast theme and main idea

Students determine the main idea or argument and theme of various texts.

Return to top of page Back to top