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If you give a kid a highlighter....

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    If you give a kid a highlighter....

    I've been studying how to help my son with his reading comprehension. Literature can be pretty challenging. I've done pre-reading with him. I specifically go through the literature guides to help him "look" for parts of the book that will be questioned later. He hears it through at least 3 times (twice on, and once with us alternating reading the paragraphs or pages). When we get to the questions, even though I've taken the time to orchestrate every opportunity for him to pick up on the answers, he still struggles answering them. I will say the questions are getting harder, and the verbiage of the questions no longer perfectly matches the words in the text. It makes it harder to find that quick answer.

    Contrast that with science. For the last 3 weeks, I handed him his science book Patterns of Nature and decided to let him try it all on his own. I've been amazed. I showed him that in science, we use a highlighter. We highlight "important" words. I know that's a subjective topic of what word is important, but somehow, watching me do it for 3 lessons just clicked. Now he highlights his lessons in Patterns of Nature. He's also answering ALL of the questions at the end independently. That got me to thinking. Why is it that he can do an entire lesson in Patterns of Nature and answer the questions perfectly after 1 reading with no help from me whatsoever. I'm not reading it, going over it, quizzing him on it. I'm not guiding him to the answers. It could very well be that the nature of the questions are a new milestone for him. He can now answer the "Who, What, When, Where" questions easily.

    I want to move that gain in one subject to another. I'm thinking of handing him his highlighter and having him mark up his literature novel as well. I may even spend a few weeks marking up his chapters lightly with a pencil to look at vocabulary words or underline an entire paragraph that holds the answer to specific study guide questions. Then, when he's in his own reading, instruct him to highlight what he finds important along with what I'm pointing out is important. Maybe that would help him when we look at the questions because he has a "landmark" to look for - the highlighted portions.

    I can see how on one hand, this could make a person lazy and they know the answers are always in the highlighted portions. But....isn't that how many textbooks work as well. They bold, italicize, or do a box off to the side? If anything, we learn that we may as well start highlighting in our own books (in science a least) because we KNOW we have to refer back to these sections in order to answer questions. It helps us form an outline of the major topics of a chapter. Anyways, if he has to pause in his reading to "decide" that something is important, whether I've pencil-underlined or not, it may help his comprehension grow. I'm going to try it this week with the readings and see if comprehension improves. It may mean that all of his books become his own personal "consumables", and that could get a little expensive. Still, it may be worth it.

    Has anyone tried something like this with a positive outcome?

    DS (MP3) - 9
    DS (MP2) - 7/8
    DS (K) - 6
    DD (Adorable distraction) 2 1/2

    I wonder if it's not so much a comprehension issue as a "can't find the words" issue? They actually recommend this method in the upper grades: they have the students look over the Student Guide questions and then mark the page number in the margin of their guide when they hear/read the answer in the text. It's a precursor to note-taking. I would do some samples like you did with Patterns of Nature and then give him that highlighter!
    Blog: [url][/url]

    MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
    MPOA: High School Comp. II
    HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

    MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
    MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
    HSC: Modern European History

    7M with:
    Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

    SC Level 4

    3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

    Still in SC Level 2

    DD 4/5
    SC Level C


      I'm wondering if the type is bigger on Patterns of Nature vs in the Literature books? My guys in MP3 are finding answers in their literature texts and marking them, but only if we chat about the questions ahead of time, or if I remind them. It won't be a huge leap for them to start looking for the answers on their own.

      I also wonder if my guys are in tune to it in their books because they've seen their older sister or me mark answers? Like they're already used to the idea?

      Maybe it's something to do with expository reading vs studying literature?
      Plans for 2019-20

      DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
      DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
      DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
      DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
      DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
      DS6 - 5 - MP K



        As Jennifer said, it's actually what they recommend throughout with the lit guides. I had quite a few laughs with my daughter when she actually followed this advice, and I freaked out because she had written in the book. In my mind, my son is going to cycle through that and there's no way I'm buying another. Of course, I'm going to try this an experiment as we start 3A because I scored a copy of Charlotte's Web for 50 cents. If it legitimately works that much better, I'll let her underline or highlight every book!

        You could also try doing a short explanation of the types of questions and the types of answers that are expected. Sometimes I go through and point out that who questions get answered with people's (character) names, why questions get answered with because.... or a reason that comes either just before or after the result mentioned in the question. What questions get answered with things (nouns), and where questions get answered with place names. There was a helpful series of lessons in Rod & Staff Preparing to Build 2 (English grammar book) that cemented this nicely for my MP2-er.

        Because your eldest needs a little more explicit instruction in inferencing, you could always save the "why do you think" questions, which rely on weighing details from the story not explicitly mentioned, as oral discussions. Then, you can walk him through the format of how to answer them. He can highlight passages from the text that support his argument and then copy those parts into a format that starts, "I think Laura's father did not discipline her because ________________________."
        Mama to 2, Married 18 years

        SY 19/20
        DD 9-3A
        DS 6-SC C