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Strategy #3: Selective highlighting

Some students, when highlighting to mark important content in a reading, may quickly realize they've pretty much colored the whole thing yellow. We can, though, demonstrate how to read through the material and highlight/mark important elements on an overhead, computer screen, or chalk board. You may want to suggest that they use three or four different colors and establish a code for themselves. For example: yellow highlights vocabulary, blue highlights main ideas, pink highlights supporting details, and orange highlights viewpoints.

After demonstrating this strategy, give students a chance to practice in class or as a reading exercise. Here are instructions you can give to your students:

  1. Use one color to highlight key vocabulary and the corresponding definitions or explanations. Focus on how authors reveal the meaning of new terms within this context.

  2. Use different colors to highlight the main ideas and supporting details.

  3. Use yet another color to highlight the facts and concepts that support a particular viewpoint.

  4. After completing the reading and highlighting, go back and review. Take a few minutes to annotate the text by creating lists, comments, questions. Then take some book notes based on your highlights and annotations to consolidate your learning and as a great review strategy for exams.

To make this a useful strategy, remember to use pencil to underline the first time you read a section or paragraph; otherwise you could highlight too much information.  Then go back over the underlines to pick out key words and phrases to highlight as suggested above.

Please click the Document icon to download the instructions in Microsoft Word Format.

Document icon - Selective Highlighting Instructions