Highlight Away!

Posted by Kara Parker on March 24, 2012 in 3 Activities, Interpretive Reading

Interpretive Reading Activity


  1. Find and print something for them to read (For ideas: Chispas & search “Authentic Resources – Reading”).
  2. Provide highlighters or markers (blue/green/yellow/pink/orange).
  3. Copy and paste the blank image below to your preferred program (Word, Pages, PowerPoint, etc).
  4. Add text boxes to “write” in the categories that they are looking for while reading. Or use the generic one provided belo
  5. Provide the categories to the students (put on paper or just project on board).


generalScreen Shot 2016-07-08 at 7.09.04 PM

Download Blank

Download in Italian

Other Options:

  • You could also use question words (who? where? when? etc).
  • The middle yellow text box can be replaced with a “focus” to match topics you are learning about. Examples: foods, musical terms, art phrases, clothing, etc.
  • Enlarge and print them to hang up to always have as a reference. We suggest to hang next to something relevant. Example: “lugar” next to a map, “fecha” next to calendar, “acción” next to the day’s agenda, etc.
  • Read Highlight Away to see more ideas.
  • Use “circle, underline, box, etc.” instead of color-coding if you don’t have highlighters.
  • Go digital! No markers needed. Digital Highlighting Activity
  • Put with any reading and it makes a great sub plan too.

Published on March 24, 2012

Here’s a way to assess what students understand in a reading without them translating or you writing questions… HIGHLIGHTING! I also have a study skills class with ESL students. I love seeing, and stealing, different activities from the other teachers. This highlighting activity is from watching Ms. Rice’s English class. The goal is to “create a mental model of story elements.” With a little tweaking, it is now an interpretive reading for mine that also supports another content area.


First show the following slide and review with them some examples (“Who” can be… A person, animal, or thing.) You may want to do one together or at least show a model. If you are focusing on something specific (adjectives, family vocab, etc,), add that too. Now that I have this slide, I can quickly adapt the activity for any reading.

Give them highlighters that correspond to the colors on the slide. If you don’t have enough for your entire class, set this up as a station activity or have them underline with colored markers.

Give them some readings. I love to screenshot peopleenespanol.com or copy from the magazine. Give them some choices or let them pick their own.

Example using tweets in Music unit:

Highlight Away – Tweets




If you like this idea, give us a “like” below! Or leave a comment with how you’ve modified this idea.

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18 comments for “Highlight Away!”

  1. Susan says:

    Wow. I have to think about this more and try it…it looks like a great idea! Thanks.

  2. Jacki Morris (@profeguerita) says:

    I’m doing this right now in a reading focus unit. What I’m doing is working towards writing of summaries. So, have you review what the truly salient point are, have them get one more brain repetition of the words about writing a summary. You can conclude the summary with a review portion so the student react to it, too.
    It’s true. Cross-curricular standards met in this lesson – now the English dept. owes you.

    1. tmsaue1 says:

      That was going to be my suggestion as well. Love this literacy approach to comprehension. Having students write a summary will also give them a purpose for the highlighting activity. We didn’t just do it for activity-sake, but we did it in order to write a summary of the article.

      You could also have them tweet (real or fake) one sentence (140 characters or less of course) for each category.

      1. Kara says:

        I like the tweet idea! Thanks. 🙂

  3. JenniferM says:

    Neat idea! Do you have a SMARTboard? (Just found your blog and haven’t looked through it much…) If so, you could either: 1. customize your tools to give yourself highlighters in each of those colors and have some kids come highlight on the board… or 2. you could take some of the important/trickiest words/phrases of each and mix them up on the bottom a blank slide with 4 colored boxes, then have the kids drag them to the correct color.

    1. Kara says:

      I am on a cart and there is not a smartboard in all my rooms. I think your ideas would be great though! Especially for modeling it.

  4. qpoiweur says:

    pick a colour a write a story using them…?

  5. Hello Kara,

    I write the blog for the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) at the University of Texas. I’m writing a post about social reading using our tool eComma, and I thought it might be nice to refer readers to your “highlight away” article. Would you mind if I mentioned your highlighting technique and linked readers to your site? The other examples of social reading that I’m mentioning are for higher ed so I think it would be really great to have a K-12 example for people.

    Please let me know what you think!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Absolutely Sarah! Share away. Also put a link to your article in the comments here. It’s always great to see more examples and ideas.

      1. Thanks Kara! Here’s our post about social reading and other ways students can mark up texts together: https://blog.coerll.utexas.edu/plunge-into-a-text-with-social-reading/.

        1. Kara Parker says:

          Thanks Sarah. I look forward to seeing new ideas!

  6. Lorraine Miner says:

    You might also have students write Who? What? When? Where? questions based on the articles they read and then have them switch articles with another group.

    Reading is my target skill for the coming year. I like this highlighting idea very much and will certainly use it.


    1. Kara Parker says:

      That’s a good suggestion. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Kara Parker says:

      Yep! I’ve done that too. I chose the “people, place, etc” because we were working on circumlocution skills and those were key words they needed.

  7. Ester BerRíos says:

    Great idea! I will implement it in my Spanish class!

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