Guided Reading with Highlighter

The purpose of this activity is for students to identify the main idea and other key information in a text. The text may not be completely comprehensible to students, but their highlighter summary encourages them to focus on what they do understand when reading and reminds them that they do not need to understand every word to understand the meaning of a text. 

In the sample below, the students were instructed to find evidence in the text to support the 4-star rating given to the restaurant. 


  1. The teacher gives each student a highlighter and a copy of the text(s) to be read.

  2. The teacher instructs students to read the text silently and highlight key information. This could be the main idea, specific details, or both.

  3. (Optional) The students exchange papers with an elbow partner and read each others’ highlighter summaries.

  4. (Optional) The teacher leads the whole class to fill in a graphic organizer based on the commonly highlighted information.

Helpful Tips

  1. The teacher may choose to have students use multiple colors of highlighters to locate different information (see sample instructions and text with highlights in Images below).

  2. The teacher could also choose to use a digital version of a text and have students highlight in a word processing or notepad software application.


  1. Novice level texts should ideally be accompanied with visuals to support comprehension.


  1. Highlighters for each student

  2. A copy of the text for each student

Sample Materials

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version.