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Highlighting Critical Features

Page history last edited by Mallory Burton 12 years, 6 months ago

Highlighting Critical Features is a UDL strategy presented in Chapter 6 of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age.  


Key Concepts:

1.  Teachers can make learning more efficient by helping students to focus on the relevant features

2.  Teachers can highlight vocally, visually, or with facial expressions and gestures

3.  Different kinds of highlights are needed for different students and different types of content

4.  Digital Media contain many options that facilitate highlighting of critical features


Declaring Your Learning Intentions

Declaring your learning intentions helps students focus on a lesson's critical features.  In her blog post, UDL Team Leader Anita Strang discusses the powerful impact of Declaring your learning intentions for every lesson.



Sample Lessons That Highlight Critical Features and Check for Understanding


Examining the key features of text such as title and table of contents is an important pre-reading strategy.  In this BC UDL LOR lesson, the teacher and class use the Bookmarking Feature in Kurzweil to identify important sections of an article.  They then use the bookmarks to quickly locate answers to study questions.

  This model science lesson includes several checks for understanding.



1.  What methods do you use to highlight critical features for students?

2.  What teaching methods/activities are particularly designed to highlight critical features?

3.  Which Kurzweil and SB features can be used to highlight critical features?

4.  How do you monitor whether your students are attending to the critical features?


Chat Pod Brainstorm from online session Feb 11, 2010.  Thanks everybody for the great ideas!  I have added many of your suggestions to the Teaching Strategies/Activities section below...please click the Edit Tab and expand on what I've written, linking to additional pages if you need more room.


Teaching Strategies/Activities/Resources:


Sticky Notes--paper and digital. 
Highlighter pens--paper and digital (MSWord, Kurzweil, NB).  Firefox Awesome Highlighter can be used to highlight on the web.
  In the online meeting, Rae mentioned that her teachers use the THIEVES pre-reading strategy for highlighting text features

Many graphic organizers are designed to highlight critical features and these can also be used to monitor whether students are attending to critical features, e.g. free downloadables at Education Oasis .

Cornell Notes is a graphic organizer for student note-taking.  Critical concepts are extracted to column on the left as cue questions.  Here's how to create a Word template for Cornell Notes.  This website contains several links to downloadable templates and Cornell Note Generators.

Foldables are 3-D graphic organizers that show critical ideas in a fun way.  Foldables can also be used as an informal assessment.  This lesson plan explains how to create an Exploring Earthquakes foldable. The UDL PocketMod is also a type of foldable. 
  Cooperative learning Jigsaw Activities are great for sharing critical ideas back with the group. 

Use pair and share or A/B partner both to share critical features and to monitor student attention to critical features.


Puzzle clip art from Wikipedia Commons


Sesame Street's "One of these things is not like the others" song is an example of a lesson at the primary level that is used to highlight critical similarities and differences.

  In this TED talk, Dan Meyer cautions against a paint-by-number approach to math that makes math too easy!  By starting with a difficult problem he engages all kinds and levels of learners from the beginning in a way that makes math serve a conversation about math principles.


Related MS Word Features:


 MS Word has several tools which can be used to highlight critical features.

Bolding, italics, different fonts and sizes, bullets, and headings help to highlight and structure printed material.
   You can highlight text in Word using the highlight tool.
  Use Text Comments to highlight critical features.
  Use Voice Comments to highlight critical features.
One of the settings in the Auto Summarize Tool highlights key points in a document.  This works best if the document has been formatted using the heading styles.
When you are creating a new document in MS Word, choose "brochures" to browse their online collection of foldable brochures.
You can create your own webs in MS Word using Clip Art and Shapes Tools.  There are also several web and organizational chart templates in the Smart Art section on the Insert Tab.


Related Kurzweil Features: 

Kurzweil software has several tools which can be used to highlight critical features.  

The Highlight Tools in Kurzweil can be used to highlight important vocabulary or notes which can then be extracted to another file.  This lesson uses the highlight feature in Kurzweil to gather information for a character sketch.  It could be used as an individual activity or as a lesson with the teacher and class together locating the information to be highlighted.

Text Notes, Sticky Notes, Bubble Notes, and Voice Notes can be used to highlight critical features.
Bookmarks are especially useful for drawing attention to the structure of text.  In this LOR lesson, the class bookmarks chapter subheadings and then uses those bookmarks to quickly locate answers to chapter questions.


Related SB and NB Features:

Notebook Software contains many options for highlighting and focussing attention. These include:


Physically move text boxes around, e.g. main and supporting ideas.

Pen Tool, Creative Pen, and Highlighter Pens can be used to highlight critical features. (Change their colour, thickness, transparency in Properties).  Use the Highlighter in Floating Tools to take notes on web pages and save those to NB using the Screen Capture Tool.

Screen Shade allows you to cover entire screen, just the working area of NB page, or individual cells in a table.

The Spotlight and Magic Pen Tools enlarge or illuminate specific areas on a page.

If you play a video through SB Video Player the video pauses when you pick up a pen and you can make annotations on it to highlight critical features. 

If the video won't play through the player, you can also just play and pause it, make annotations using the Floating Pen Tool and capture the changes to NB.

The document camera is especially useful for showing critical features in student work.
Brainstorm on the SB on a blank page or using SMART Ideas.
  The Personal Response System could be used to monitor student attention to critical features.



Focus on highlighting critical features with your teams this week and share feedback at our next online meeting.


Related Pages:

MS Word Highlighting

MS Word Text Comments

MS Word Voice Comments






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