It’s the doing in the end that makes the difference. In this Reflection, Dan and his friend and colleague Angela Bernardi recognize that their students do not know how to use highlighters. They take action immediately to remedy this deficiency.


Dan Hilliard used to underline in books and write notes in the margins. Recently, however, he decided to use a highlighter and Post-it notes and flags. He particularly likes the flags to indicate key pages. When he realized his students were not using highlighters properly, he decided to create lessons to teach them how to use them well. He also tried out some of his ideas in class about using Post-its and flags. His students seemed to become more curious about what they were reading.
He shared his thinking with Angela, and together they brainstormed other approaches. They also realized that they needed to integrate learning content while introducing these skills. They wanted to be sure students knew what they were learning and why.

Points to Pursue [Examples of ideas for teachers to try. Each chapter in the book offers such suggestions.]

• Periodically survey your students’ knowledge and understandings of how you conduct your classroom, for example, how to prepare for tests, do homework, write papers, discuss, etc. Chances are you will discover misconceptions that you can correct.

• Find a one-sheet lesson that appeals to students and use the two-highlighter approach or a variation of your own. Do the exercise several times until students understand how to use the technique well.

• Try homework assignments requiring highlighters, Post-it notes and flags. Assess the homework the following day to reinforce using them well.

• Invite students to create a rubric for assessing the use of highlighters, Post-it notes and flags. This is an excellent way to assess their understanding.

Praise for Teaching from the Middle of the Room: “Congratulations! I did read the ‘Dan Hilliard’ story, which continued throughout the book in the “Reflections,” and enjoyed it very much. Well done! I passed the book around to my colleagues. I wish you all success with the book.” ~Carolyn Pool, Acquisitions Editor, ASCD

Find numerous tools for teaching in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn that you can buy from