Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Highlighter (Yes, highlighter)

2 Smart Wenches is composed of me (Martha) and my colleague and friend Wendie. She is a wonderful writer and teacher, and she has done me the favor of posting for the letter H. I believe her abilities as a writer come across very well.
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Highlighters, Yay! . . . sort of
Kids love to use highlighters. And kudos to the person who invented them-- seriously-- a marker that lets you read through it. Plus they're probably one of the most affordable learning tools. I know that the second the words "let's highlight the important stuff" leave my mouth, my students are scrambling for their favorite color. Blue is quite popular. But as awesome as highlighters are, they take a considerable amount of modeling and training-- or at least that has been my experience.
Early on in the school year my principal walked into observe and I was thrilled at my luck. Instead of the my usual misfortune in timing where she walks in while we're transitioning to a new lesson or even worse when she steps in on the infamous water bottle spill or the ever popular "oh, I forgot my glasses" complaint. Then of course the student stares at you expectantly as if you can just open your magical optometrist cupboard and pull out a new pair. But this time my students were engaged in small study groups where they had to find evidence to support several focus questions in our one of our Reading to Learn booklets. The highlighters were flying and the discussions were going. Unfortunately the highlighters were flying a bit too much. Many of the students had entire pages of pink highlight.
I found though that with plenty of modeling they learned how to be a bit more discriminating when highlighting. Now I tell students to ask themselves to read back what they've highlighted and check the question to see if the information is related.  And persistence has paid off. My third graders will move on to fourth grade much more skilled at finding important key details and relevant facts. Unless, of course, they forget everything over the summer.


1 comment :

  1. Even on the college level students highlight too much -- defeats the purpose of highlighting, don't you think?
    I'm retired now, but I recall those days when I was teaching high school and grumbling that the principal always seemed to pop in at the wrong time. Surely I was fantastic 10 minutes before!
    Visiting from A to Z ~
    Wendy at Jollett Etc.


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