Teaching Strategy


Close and Critical Reading
Grade Level


“Annolighting” (annotating and highlighting) shows students how to identify critical information in a text during close reading. Students learn to annotate text, highlight important facts and summarize what they have read to capture main ideas, concepts and details.


During reading


Annolighting teaches students to target, reduce and distill the most important information while reading, skills that improve comprehension and cut down on study and review time.


Model, scaffold and gradually release responsibility for annolighting to students before asking them to engage this strategy independently.
  1. Select a central text.
  2. Identify the focus for instructions (e.g., return to vocabulary or introduce ideas or themes critical to understanding the text).
  3. Divide the central text into manageable sections. Assign students one section at a time.
  4. Prepare an annolighting graphic organizer for each text section.
  5. Have students read the text section once without highlighting.
  6. Have students read the text a second time and annolight according to the following:
    • Highlight the facts and key information associated with the theme text's main idea(s) (not the entire sentence).
    • Underline context clues that help determine definitions for words and phrases.
    • Identify lists, search tools (key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) or other text features that provide additional information on the text's topic.
  7. Use the annolighting graphic organizer to record information from the text.
  8. Move on to the next section of the text and repeat steps 5 and 6.

English language learners

This strategy may be difficult for English language learners with lower English proficiency. They may become stuck on some of the vocabulary words and be unable to discern the main idea and details. Consider using a typical five-paragraph essay when introducing this strategy to English language learners. Another possible adaptation is allowing English language learners to use texts with which they are already familiar.

Connection to anti-bias education

Annolighting is an inclusion-building strategy. It provides equal access to the content in difficult texts and invites students to engage with the author in a meaningful way. The strategy evokes analysis and offers a way to focus the reader on social justice and anti-bias questions.

For more annolighting ideas, click here.

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