Highlighting is not a new concept. The problem is most students don’t know how to effectively highlight. You know what I’m referring to, you walk by and glance down at a student’s book or worksheet and the entire thing is covered in highlight marker. Needless to say, this approach is highly ineffective, after all, highlighting isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality.
When executed properly, highlighting can be a powerful tool to help students organize what they have read and help them retain important key facts. Mastering the art of highlighting is a learned skillset and I suggest that we empower our students to become highlight masters.
To aid students in becoming highlighting masters, try drafting 3-5 questions before class relating to the topic of the day. At the beginning of class instruct students to only highlight the content as it relates to these key questions. This will aid in keeping students on task and highlighting only the essential components of their readings. A good rule of thumb is to aim for no more than 20-30 percent of the document to be highlighted. Say goodbye to full pages of yellow highlights.
After students have highlighted, they should reread what they have highlighted to make certain it makes sense and that they can answer the key questions that you provided them at the beginning of class. This step will allow students to double-check their work and make any necessary adjustments if needed. Then, instruct students to take what was highlighted and create a summary paragraph for each question. This last step can act as a great review activity.
It doesn’t matter if your students are manually highlighting in their textbook or using a digital form of highlighting in an eBook, by teaching students the art of highlighting they become empowered to pay close attention to essential information within any reading.