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Strategy #1: Outlining with headings

Outlining is a system of notetaking that uses a progression of numbers and letters to indicate main ideas and supporting details.

1. Before they start reading a textbook chapter, or other readings that employ boldfaced subheadings, ask students to set up an outline framework and then fill it in while reading. This helps students, especially weaker readers, to pause and focus on main ideas and supporting details as they read.

2. Have students examine how their textbook chapters or the assigned reading is organized. In a textbook that makes good use of subtitles to emphasize main ideas and supporting details, there may be several ways to approach this activity. Please take a look a the textbook example below.

Students can organize chapter headings into a traditional outline as follows:

Title of Chapter
I. Major subheading -- main idea of a chapter section
  A. Secondary subheading -- main idea of sub-section by title of section
    1. Skip lines here to include supporting details.
    2.
  B.
    1.
    2.

When students finish outlining the reading assignment, they have focused on the content and should therefore have a strong grasp of the ideas presented in the outlined pages, as well as the relationships among those ideas. In addition, outlining helps readers identify gaps in their knowledge so that they can ask clarifying questions. If students compare and contrast their outlines with fellow classmates and/or in study groups, they can further their understanding of the material.