Materials: A set of blue, black, green and red coloured-pens / pencils for each pair / for each group of four students (you may use different colours instead; but whichever four colours you use, make sure you give the same four colours to students)
Preparation: Make copies of the reading text for all students
Interaction Patterns: Individual work, group work
Time: 50 minutes
- Hand out the reading text.
- Students silently read the text to underline the main idea (s) using the BLUE pen.
- Next, students highlight the supporting ideas with the BLACK pen.
- Then, using the GREEN pen, they mark the areas they found interesting or surprising.
- Finally, with the RED pen, students circle the unknown words or phrases / sentences they have found confusing.
- After colour coding the text (their texts will look like the one below), students work in groups of four.
- They compare their texts with those of the other students.
o They check if they all have underlined the same main idea (s).
o They compare the supporting ideas they have identified.
o They discuss which idea (s) they have found interesting and why.
o Students compare the parts in red: they ask each other the meaning of the unknown words they have underlined.
- Closely monitor the groups and visit each one to listen to their discussion and provide help when necessary.
• After reading the text on their own, students might decide on the parts to be underlined together in groups. They may then post their colour coded reading text on the walls of the classroom and compare their text with the other groups’. They may ask questions to the other groups or discuss their opinions.
• If you cannot obtain an adequate number of coloured pens for your students, you may ask students to share the same pens. They may first read and select the parts they plan to highlight with a different coloured pen. Then, they may share the pens with others.
- Colour coding a text aids especially visual learners’ comprehension of a text. It helps them to practice identifying main and supporting ideas, reflecting on these ideas and dealing with unknown words in a cooperative task, which makes it easier for them to deal with challenging texts.
- Colour coding makes monitoring and checking students’ work teacher-friendly.
For more reading activities, you may read the chapter on Reading Activities in my activity book, The Activist.