When students are working hand out highlighters to students so they can annotate their text. Choose who you give what colour to, hand them out randomly or let them pick from a box. The important thing is that you have five or six different colours to choose from.
As they are writing, students will mark up their page, already increasing their engagement through the use of:
- Highlighting the most important word
- Underline the most important sentence
- Circle the most important paragraph
Once complete, have them form groups with other students that used the same colour or make groups that represent one of every colour. They can then engage in metacognitive activities, explaining their choices.
There are a number of Super Strategies that you can use in tandem with one another to reshape the effectiveness of your classroom, and your teaching practice.
WHAT MAKES IT S.U.P.E.R.?
SUPER Strategies must be Simple (explained in ten words or less), Useful (don’t increase workload), Powerful (lead to deeper learning opportunities), Effective (impact student success), Repeatable (easily implemented in most situations).
Use Highlighters to Create Groups
There are times when you’ll want to create groups. Rather than turning this into a display of classroom power dynamics, one simple phrase will activate your students, getting them to move from one area to the next.
As students will perceive that the highlighters were given out without specific groups pre-determined they will view this as a fair and organic decision. As they have already used their highlighters on their pages, they won’t spend time trying to swap highlighters to form self-selected groups, as the evidence of such a swap will be readily apparent
Should students predict your later group forming before they begin using the highlighters, you can easily change the instructions for the group creation, moving from “one of each colour” to “two blues and two greens”.
This Super Strategy increases engagement with the assigned material by ensuring that all voices are represented in your classroom. Rather than allowing students to stay within a small community of peers within the classroom, they will get up, walk around, and grow through the addition of new perspectives.
When students are becoming restless or lethargic this strategy can energize them by getting them to their feet, even if only for a brief moment.
Rather than being able to express their thoughts in short snippets, using peer-centric shorthand comments, students will have to reframe how they perceive communication and expression when speaking to students they are less familiar with. By making mixed groups that involve members that students don’t often interact with, they will increase their own success by demanding more from themselves.
Buy your highlighters once, and you’ll be good to go for years. You can use this to create teams, study groups, assignment partners, or quick chat groups. So long as your students know their colors, this method works with zero prep-time!