[Plato Courseware Feature Focus] Highlight This, Flex That!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 -- Shannan LaMalfa

In my previous blog on behalf of our Edmentum Team, I appreciated quality educators like Mrs. Head, my own daughter Hope's fifth grade teacher this year. She understands the importance of building relationships with students. Teacher-student relationships begin with quality educators, and at Edmentum it’s our goal to provide tools to encourage and foster these relationships that are so critical to learning. We work hard to build the best products available, and we are committed to being educators’ most trusted partner in creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs.

As part of this commitment, we continuously work to release updates, improvements, and new features in our products. Today, we’re excited to announce our new student highlighter tool is now available in Plato Courseware! In addition, we've released several enhancements for Flex Assignments. Read on to learn the details! 

Student Highlighter Tool

The concept of a highlighter is simple. Effective highlighting supports students’ reading and retention. It also supports learners as they review and study material. Teaching students to identify what to highlight takes terrific educators like you to implement ideas and facilitate purposeful highlighting that leads to student academic success. As you begin to utilize this new tool with your students, here are a few ideas:

  • Decide if you would like to adopt a whole-class highlighting process for tutorials, teacher-graded activities, whole course, or other comprehension needs your learners have. For example, yellow highlighting could indicate key ideas, blue could indicate explanations or examples, and green could be used for transitional words.
  • Consider having students highlight based on individual lessons. For example, in a math lesson focusing on division, have students highlight all key words related to division in blue. These key words may include divide, quotient, goes into, split equally, or each.
  • Identify students in need of additional support who will benefit from differentiated highlighting strategies to personalize learning. For example, a learner who has difficulty comprehending content may need to highlight content he or she does not understand. This will help when the teacher meets with the learner one-to-one to know what exactly the student is struggling with.
  • If you have students in need of positive behavior or intervention supports, consider using the highlighter tool to keep them on task or engaged in their tutorials. Ask the student to use various highlighter colors for different reasons. For example, they could use yellow highlighting for dates, names, or places; green for vocabulary terms; blue for important facts; and purple for summary sentences.

As you can see, there are lots of possibilities for using this simple but powerful tool to differentiate instruction!

Flex Assignments as a Strategy for Academic Skills Instruction

Flex Assignments provides many opportunities for teachers to enhance student learning through personalized, group, or whole-class assignments. With Flex Assignments, the sky is the limit in terms of differentiation, remediation, acceleration, intervention, extensions, or whole-class subject enhancement. 

Teach (or remind) students about effective highlighting. If you need a resource to instruct your learners in "how to" of study habits, including best practices for using the highlighter tool, consider creating a Flex Assignment and pulling in modules from Edmentum's Academic Success course. This will help support your learners with internalizing new knowledge as they move through other academic material. With Flex Assignments, you can also add discussion threads on different topics (such as highlighting) to your course.

At Edmentum, we’re always looking for new ideas to build relationships with learners. That was our goal last week when I had the honor of meeting with our Service team members in our Richardson, Texas, office. We came together to collaborate and share ideas for best practices, many of which we learn from partnering with you during product implementation or staff development.

During our meeting one of our Implementation Coaches, Elizabeth Melendez, shared a story about how one educator has implemented our Courseware product. In the teacher's biology course, students took a particular interest in a chemistry topic. In order to continue the students' opportunity to learn, the teacher added a Flex Assignment specific to chemistry by pulling in a course module from Edmentum's chemistry course. This allowed her students to continue their dialogue on a topic of interest. What a terrific implementation of Flex Assignments! Elizabeth noted that since this teacher assigned the Flex Assignment to the whole class, there is a need for educators to be able to grade Flex Assignments. Surprise! We added this enhancement upon our release of the student highlighter tool, and we’re very excited that it’s now available.

To wrap up this post, I’d like to share a couple of frequently asked questions and answers about these new enhancements:

Where will my students find the new highlighter tool?

The new highlighter tool is located in the learner toolbar on the left side of the course screen.

Plato Courseware Highlighter Tool

How many colors are in the new highlighter tool?

There are four colors in the new tool: yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Once my learners click on the highlighter tool, how do they highlight?

The action of highlighting does not begin with the learner toolbar. It begins with the learner selecting the text he or she wants to highlight. Then the learner clicks on the highlighter tool and selects the color. This activates the highlight to appear where the learner wants it to appear. Once highlighted, the color will auto-save within the course.

Here at Edmentum we invite comments to our blogs. We would love to hear how you use Edmentum Plato Courseware features and tools to differentiate instruction for one student or a group of learners, or to personalize learning for all students in your classroom. We want you to use our blog as your staff lounge to share ideas, challenges, and most importantly, positive successes.

Interested in learning more about Edmentum’s engaging and rigorous online courses, proven to achieve real results? Check out Plato Courseware here!