Using Main Ideas to Summarize

“Using Main Idea in Summarizing”
Suggested Article: “A Brief History of Bluegrass Music” from:
Length: Four to Five Days
Focus Standard:
RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the
Review Standard:
RI 1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when
drawing inferences from the text.
Essential Questions:
 How can main ideas be used to help summarize a selection?
Days 1 and 2
1. Allow students to work in small groups of 2-3 students. Distribute a copy of the article to each
student or provide them with access to the website to read the article digitally.
2. Activate student’s prior knowledge by playing some bluegrass music and introduce some
instruments used in the music. Providing students with the instrument names along with an
image will help them to comprehend when reading the article. Instruments mentioned
throughout the article include: mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass, Dobro
3. Introduce other key vocabulary to the students.
You may want to include the following: bluegrass, roots, band, picking, phonograph, audience
4. Explain that today the students will use the main ideas of the paragraphs they read to help them
summarize an article.
5. Read aloud the first paragraph of the article and have students share what they think the main
idea is. Model how to paraphrase the main idea. Have students write the paraphrased main
idea in the margin by the first paragraph. Example for paragraph 1: Bluegrass music has its
roots from the music that was brought to America by immigrants in the 1600’s.
Guided Group Work:
1. Have students get into groups and begin working on finding the main idea for other sections or
paragraphs of the text. They should make notes on their article as they go.
Partner Share:
1. Have groups pair up. Each group should share the main ideas they found throughout the text.
Have them discuss why they may have different statements written throughout the text. Allow
students the option of adding to their margin notes when sharing.
Day 3
1. Use a text from a previous lesson on main idea (“The Amazing Flying Machine”)to demonstrate
how the main ideas can be combined to summarize a text. As a class write a summary for the
previously discussed text.
Days 4 and 5
Guided Group Work:
Students should return to the group they worked with on Days 1 and 2. Have students use the
text about bluegrass music to begin their group summaries.
Group Share:
1. Have group’s post summaries around the room.
2. The class should participate in a gallery walk to read the other groups’ summaries. As they read
the other summaries they should take notes about how the summaries are alike and how they
are different.
Whole Class Discussion:
1. Discuss differences noted in summaries during the gallery walk. (Some students may point out
that there were no section headers. If so, you may want to discuss how these text features may
have been helpful when writing the summary.)
Independent Reflection
Have students respond to the following:
After reading and comparing the summaries in the class, write about how the groups’
summaries differed and why they may have differed. How could the article have been
written differently to make it easier to summarize?
**Formative Assessment
In this lesson either the group summaries or the students’ written reflections can be used to
assess what they learned from the lesson
A Brief History of Bluegrass Music
The people who migrated to America in the 1600s from Ireland, Scotland, and England
brought with them the basic styles of music that are generally considered to be the roots of
bluegrass music as it is known today. As the Jamestown settlers began to move out into North
and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, they wrote songs about
day-to-day life in the new land. Since most of these people lived in remote areas, the songs
reflected life on the farm or in the hills. This type of music was called "mountain music" or
"country music." The invention of the phonograph and the onset of the radio in the early
1900s brought this music out of the mountains and into the homes of people all over the
United States.
The Monroe Brothers were one of the most popular acts of the 1920s and 1930s. Charlie
Monroe played the guitar, Bill played the mandolin, and they sang in harmony. When the
brothers split in 1938, both went on to form their own bands. Bill was a native of Kentucky,
the Bluegrass State, so he decided to call his band "Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys," and
this band started a new form of “traditional” country music.
Bill Monroe and his “Blue Grass Boys" first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry stage in 1939 and
soon became one of the most popular touring bands to emerge from Nashville's WSM
studios. Bill's band was different from other traditional country bands because of its harddriving and powerful sound that used traditional acoustic instruments and featured distinctive
vocal harmonies. The music incorporated songs and rhythms from string band, gospel (black
and white), black laborer work song, country, and blues music repertoires. Vocal selections
included duet, trio, and quartet harmony singing in addition to Bill's powerful "high lonesome"
solo lead singing. After experimenting with various instrumental combinations, Bill settled on
mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bass as the format for his band.
While many fans of bluegrass music date the genre to 1939, when Monroe formed his first
Blue Grass Boys band, most believe that the classic bluegrass sound came together late in
1945, shortly after Earl Scruggs, a 21-year-old banjo player from North Carolina, joined the
band. Scruggs played an innovative three-finger picking style on the banjo that energized
enthusiastic audiences and has since come to be known as "Scruggs style" banjo. Equally
influential in the classic 1945 line-up of the Blue Grass Boys were Lester Flatt, from Sparta,
Tennessee, on guitar and lead vocals, Chubby Wise, from Florida, on fiddle; and Howard
Watts, also known by his comedian name "Cedric Rainwater," on acoustic bass.
When Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt formed their own
group, The Foggy Mountain Boys, they decided to
include the resophonic guitar, or “Dobro,” into their
band format. The Dobro is often included in bluegrass
band formats today as a result. Burkett H. "Uncle Josh"
Graves, from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, heard Scruggs'
three-finger style of banjo picking in 1949 and adapted
it to the then almost obscure slide bar instrument.
With Flatt & Scruggs from 1955-1969, Graves
introduced his widely emulated, driving, bluesy style
on the Dobro. The Dobro was invented in the United
States by the Dopyera Brothers, immigrant
musicians/inventors originally from the Slovak
Republic. The brand name, "Dobro," comes from a
combination of the first few letters of the words
“Dopyera Brothers.”
From 1948-1969, the Flatt & Scruggs band was a major
force in introducing bluegrass music to America
through national television, radio, and appearances at schoolhouses, coliseums, and major
universities around the country. Scruggs wrote and recorded one of bluegrass music's most
famous instrumentals, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which was used in the soundtrack for the
film Bonnie & Clyde. In 1969 he established an innovative solo career with his three sons as
"The Earl Scruggs Revue." Scruggs still records and performs selected dates in groups that
usually include his sons Randy (on guitar) and Gary (on bass). After parting with Scruggs in
1969, Lester Flatt continued successfully with his own group, "The Nashville Grass,"
performing steadily until shortly before his death in 1979. By the 1950s, people began
referring to this style of music as "bluegrass music." Bluegrass bands began forming all over
the country and Bill Monroe became the acknowledged "Father of Bluegrass Music.”
In the 1960s, the concept of the "bluegrass festival" was first introduced, featuring bands on
the same bill that had previously seemed to be in competition with each other for a relatively
limited audience. Carlton Haney, from Reidsville, North Carolina is credited with envisioning
and producing the first weekend-long bluegrass music festival, which was held in Fincastle,
Virginia in 1965.
The availability of traditional music
broadcasting and recording, nationwide
bluegrass festivals, and movie, television, and
commercial soundtracks featuring bluegrass
music have helped to bring the music out of
obscurity. Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the
Foggy Mountain Boys achieved national
prominence with tour sponsorship by Martha
White Flour and for playing the soundtrack for
the previously mentioned film Bonnie and
Clyde as well as through the Beverly
Hillbillies television show. The Deliverance
movie soundtrack also featured bluegrass music, specifically "Dueling Banjos," performed by
Eric Weissberg on banjo and Steve Mandel on guitar. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the
Circle Be Unbroken triple LP set, released in 1972, introduced artists like Earl Scruggs, Doc
Watson, Jimmy Martin, Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, and others to pop music fans and brought
the authentic sounds of bluegrass and traditional country music to new audiences. In 2001,
the triple-platinum soundtrack for the Coen Brothers movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou?,
helped to attract even wider audiences to bluegrass music.
Bill Monroe passed away on September 9, 1996, four days before his 85th birthday. In May
1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of the profound influence
of his style on popular music. He is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the
Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. A picture of Bill’s childhood home in Rosine, Kentucky, which
has been restored and is open for touring, appears at left. Bill’s uncle Pen, for whom he
named a well-known bluegrass song, appears with a fiddle in the picture at above right.
Bluegrass music is now performed and enjoyed around the world. The International Bluegrass
Music Association claims members in all 50 states and 30 countries. In addition to the classic
style born in 1945 that is still performed widely, bluegrass bands today reflect influences
from a variety of sources including traditional and fusion jazz, contemporary country music,
Celtic music, rock & roll ("newgrass" or progressive bluegrass), old-time music, and Southern
gospel music.
This history is courtesy of International Bluegrass Music Association and the International
Bluegrass Music Museum. More information can be obtained at
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