How could one create laser focus in students?

A flaw in any study is not being able to distinguish important ideas from incidental facts. When students fail to do this they try and hang on to every little fact. This can be overwhelming.

So how does one practice distinguishing important ideas?

The first time you engage in this activity students need to fully understand, with examples, the difference between an important idea and an incidental fact. Big ideas or the main points are what they are looking for.

Next concept for them to understand is that any idea can be turned into a question with the use of What? Why? Where? When? Who? How? (six basic questions). They write down the questions and answer them.

As an example, this exercise when done for the movie highlighted below may look something like this:

What is this movie about? The Black-footed Ferret.

Where is this taking place? Remote northern part of Colorado.

Who is doing this? US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Why are they doing this? Bringing back this spices from near extinction.

How are they doing this? The middle part of the movie fully describes this process but the important ideas are breeding, feeding, training them for releases into the wild and eventual release.

When? The process was started 35+ years back.

How do professionals featured in the movie use STEAM topics? Students can be guided to look for this in the movie.

There can be more than one What? Where? Who? Why? How? and When? question.

When they understand this process and are ready, have them watch the movie with a focus on the main ideas. Have them turn the main ideas into questions and answers.

End this activity with a class discussion of the questions students come up with.

Looking for big ideas and asking the six basic questions results in more focus and better familiarity with the materials.