Use Executive Function Strategies to Help Students with Summer Reading!

I often think of the end of the school year as a mini graduation. Done with one year and on to the next. Instead of getting a diploma and a handshake, however, many students receive a yearbook and a summer reading list with assignments. These assignments often require students to extract the main ideas they read in a book and translate these ideas into writing or combine ideas and concepts creatively and integrate major themes with details.

One of the most widely accepted tools to help students complete these assignments is a package of highlighters. However, how often have you seen a student’s novel/paper look like it is floating in a sea of yellow highlighting? As educators and parents we need to teach students the benefits of highlighting with a purpose. This strategy is important for studying so students don’t have to re-read the entire passage, or, even worse, skip the passage because it has become too challenging to read.


highlightingChoosing the right tool for the job:
Successful navigation of a summer reading assignment requires using an approach that matches the assignment. For example, a common summer assignment is a character analysis essay.

Step one: Choose a character.

Step two: Choose several colors from the package of  highlighters. The pink highlighter can be used to pinpoint how the character’s surroundings affected his development, the yellow can be used to categorize his best traits, and the blue can emphasize his impact on society. During the writing process, a student can go back through and “check their work” by seeing if there are any overlapping, incoherent, or disorganized thoughts. Students can repeat this strategy as many times as necessary until the writing sample is organized as logically as possible.

Want to learn more? You can access the  Purposeful Highlighting lesson for free! Click here for more details.

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  • Kelly Robinson, Ph.D.