Friday, October 17, 2014

#1 Highlighter for Primary Classrooms

Hi, I'm Lauren, blogging from A Teachable Teacher!  
I'm so excited to be a part of this pack!  Today I'm going to share something I use everyday in my first grade classroom.
I think Laura Numeroff would have great success writing the book, If You Give a First Grader a Highlighter. Do you know what happens if you give a first grader a highlighter? Well if you happen to be one of those teachers that is either a control freak or a perfectionist (we are definitely not talking about me, haha…) then you know that:
First grader + Highlighter = A big mess. 

First graders don’t just want to highlight the text once, they want to highlight over and over. I’m convinced they want to see the ink bleed through the paper and onto the desk just because I told them it’s possible. First graders also want to highlight everything rather than just the important text.  I mean, it's actually a marker - who wouldn't want to use it?  Then, when it’s time to Color by Sight Word they want to use their highlighter as a crayon. After stating Please put the highlighter away, we do not color with highlighters... for the umpteenth time, the lightbulb went off! We can use CRAYONS as highlighters. Let me tell you, first grade hasn’t been the same since!

Now, we highlight ALL the time.

We highlight when we do close reads.
Statue of Liberty nonfiction text is from Teacher to the Core's American Symbols Unit.
I've been trained on Step Up To Writing, so I decided to keep the colors the same.  We highlight the main idea green and discuss how the title states the main idea.  Then we highlight details yellow and explanations red.  After close reads, I frequently ask my students to write what they learned in their journals.  Having the highlighted text really helps my struggling writers!  Other days, I will ask students to read the text and highlight their three favorite facts (usually this is the third read).  They love reading their highlighted facts to their desk partners!

We highlight when we work in our interactive notebooks.
This activity is from Teaching with Love & Laughter's Interactive Phonics Notebook.

We always highlight our phonics skill in our interactive notebooks.  Then, throughout the week, when we read or write a word that has the same skill, we highlight it!  It keeps the skill at the forefront of their minds.  Plus, the students love searching for the skill so they can share it with the class and prompt everyone to highlight the word.

During a recent observation, my principal saw us highlighting the phonics pattern in our interactive notebooks. He later commented, I love how you’re building a foundation of note-taking skills by asking your students to highlight the skill every time they see it. I said, Oh, thank you! but I was actually thinking, Hmmm, I didn’t even think of that! Teachers, let’s build those note-taking skills! ;-)

We even highlight during math!
This is one of my Common Core Math Performance Tasks.

Word problems can be so tricky!  We read the problem once, and then we go back and highlight number words and keywords.  Those word problem writers aren't going to trick us!

The best part about highlighting in the primary grades is that you already have the #1 highlighter for your classroom! What would it cost you to try this out? Nothing! So I dare you…try using crayons as highlighters during class tomorrow!

Have you ever given a first grader a highlighter?


  1. I loved your post, Lauren! I am one of those teachers that hoards highlighters in a basket on the shelf because yup I've seen the destruction they can create. I love your idea about using them for math problems...I will try this next week!
    Elyse :)
    Proud to be Primary

  2. I love that idea! Thanks for sharing it, Lauren.

    Rainbow Lily
    Rainbow Lily Designs

  3. Great tip, Lauren! I also love how you are teaching your kiddos some great note taking strategies!

    One Sharp Bunch

  4. I am such a fan of highlighters!! They have been really useful in math problems for some of my special education students. I loved your post!
    Differentiation Station Creations

  5. What a great idea. My kids don't use highlighters but we could really benefit from highlighting using crayons. Simple yet effective!