I’ve used highlighters and markers during my lessons for awhile now. This year, I started the year telling my students that we were going to use Color with a Purpose. While I don’t use this technique every day, it is VERY helpful when teaching some lessons.
At the beginning of my lesson, I tell my students that whenever I write in black, that’s the signal they should be writing in pencil. If I’m using a color, then they should be too. I let them pick their colors - they like having choices. Here is a list of five examples of when I use Color with a Purpose.
1. Conditional Statements - When I teach conditional statements, I have the students mark the hypothesis (“P”) with one color and the conclusion (“Q”) with another color. When they write the converse, I make then use the colors to show that the P and the Q switched places.
2. Parallel Lines - When I first introduce the vocabulary of alternate interior angles, same side interior angles, etc. I like to have students color code the types of angles. I think that the angles stand out to the students a little bit more. Using Color with a Purpose can really help students if they need to use a diagram for multiple problems. They can mark the diagram in a different color for each problem.
3. Composition of Functions - My students always seem to have trouble visualizing composition of functions. By writing each function in a different color, my students can clearly see what is happening.
4. Multiplying Matrices - I don’t know how else I would teach this lesson if I couldn’t color code the different parts of the matrix. My very first year, I did not use color and my kids were lost. Now, I use color every time I multiply matrices by hand, and I haven’t had any students have trouble. This one was a life saver for me and my students.
5. Angles in Circles - It can be very difficult for students to see the different relationships between the angles in a circle. By highlighting angles, all of the distracting segments are removed and students can identify the types of angles easier.
Now that I’ve used Color with a Purpose, I won’t go back. I have an odd collection of colored pens and pencils, markers and highlighters in a giant tub in my room. Kids know that they are free to borrow them at any time. Any homeless pens, markers, or pencils are just added to the tub. I collected so many homeless ones last year that I didn’t even have to buy any at the beginning of the school year.