Learning Tools and Strategies
that can be used at home!

  1. Selective Highlighting                                       
    1. Use this tool during or after reading.
    2. Read small passages, then begin highlighting.
    3. Only highlight main ideas, key words, and important details.
    4. Rarely do you highlight an entire sentence.
    5. After highlighting, look at what you have highlighted and summarize what you read.
    6. To study for a test, take what was highlighted and write a summary paragraph.
  1. Affinity Diagram
    1. Use this tool before and after reading.
    2. Before reading, jot down what you know about the topic on sticky notes.
    3. Arrange the sticky notes into groups then name the groups.
    4. After reading, add more information on sticky notes and see if there is a better way to organize the groups.
    5. To study for a test, write as much information as you can remember without looking at your notes on sticky notes or index cards. Then check your notes to see what you forgot and add that information. Then categorize the cards and give each category a name.

  1. KWL
    1. Use this too before, during, and after reading.
    2. Write what you know about the topic.
    3. Write questions you have about the topic.
    4. As you read, write what you learn. Also as you read, put a check beside the correct information on the K part of the chart.
    5. After reading, see if you can answer your questions.
    6. To study for a test, take the information and organize it by using another strategy like a map, affinity or content frame.

  1. Fishbones
    1. Use this tool after reading.
    2. The head of the fish can be a main idea. The fins are details. The tail can be a summary, a picture, or a solution.
    3. To study, create as many fishbones as you can that will utilize all your notes.
    4. You can be very creative with these!

  1. Picture Notes
    1. Use this strategy after reading.
    2. Draw pictures and symbols to represent what you have learned. Label the information.
    3. If you use this tool to study, make sure all your notes are represented.
    4. The picture should be outlined in magic marker and should be on a large sheet of paper. It does not have to be colored.
    5. You can also write a summary to go with your picture.

  1. Lotus Squares
    1. To use this tool, draw 9 boxes. The middle box is the main idea. The boxes surrounding it are the supporting details. Sometimes you can draw a new lotus square for each detail. The detail then becomes the main idea in the middle then you write even more supporting details.
    2. Use lotus squares for prewriting tools, vocabulary, main ideas and details in a story.
    3. To study, look at your notes to come up with the topic and main ideas. Take each main idea and develop a new lotus square full of details. Check your notes to make sure you haven’t left anything out.

  1. Story Plan
    1. Use this tool during and after reading.
    2. While you are reading or after you have read, fill out the following narrative elements found in fiction: setting, characters, goal, problem, events, solution/resolution.
    3. You can even use this to study in social studies when there are problems arising between groups of people.

  1. Venn Diagram
    1. Use this strategy during and after reading.
    2. Decide which items you will compare.

    3. Draw interlocking circles for each thing you are comparing.
    4. Note the differences and similarities of the items.
    5. Write a concluding sentence or a one-sentence summary that wraps it all up.

  1. ABC Boxes
    1. Use this tool before, during, and after reading.
    2. Before reading, jot down what you know about the topic.
    3. During reading, add more details.
    4. After reading, add more details.
    5. To study for a test, write as much information as you can remember without looking at your notes. Then, check your notes to see what you forgot and add that information.

  1. Power Mapping/Webbing
    1. Use this tool before, during, and after reading.
    2. Before reading, brainstorm all you know about the topic. These are your power threes or your details.
    3. Take a look at the list and categorize the information. Give each category a name. These are your power twos or your main ideas.
    4. Place your power one or your topic in the middle circle.
    5. Write your power twos surrounding your middle circle.
    6. Add your power threes or your details to the power twos.
    7. Read the selection. Add more information to the map as you read. You can delete and correct information as well.
    8. After reading, check your map to see if you included what was important and that it is organized well.
    9. You can take this information to write a summary paragraph. Each power two should be a new paragraph filled with all those details!
    10. You can use this strategy as a prewriting tool.
    11. Use this strategy to study. Brainstorm all you remember about the unit.

  1. Flow Chart
    1. You can map out or sequence most anything, the steps of a problem or phases of a story, situation or event!
    2. This strategy helps students to process ideas, decisions, and/or actions.
    3. Use the link and think of ways to make your own flow chart.

    12.  Content Frames

    1. Use this tool before, during and after reading. This tool is great to use in science and social studies.
    2. Look through the material to see if you can come up with major categories. Then see if you can subdivide the categories into smaller groups. You can use large and small headings that the author gives you to help you do this.
    3. As you read or study, place the information into the correct frames. To study, you will also want to cover different parts of the frame to see what you remember.

    13.  2- Column Notes

    1. Use this tool before, during and after reading.
    2. Before reading, look through the material to see if you can change the headings into questions. Fold your paper in half, label one side questions and the other side answers.
    3. During reading, write the answers to your questions plus other important information.
    4. After reading and to help you study, fold the paper and use both sides to quiz yourself on what you remember.
    5. 2 column notes can also be labeled main idea/details, word/definition, problem/solution, opinion/proof. You can also have 3 column notes. For example, word/definition, picture.

    14.   QAR (Question/Answer/Relationship)

    1. This tool is used after reading.
    2. There are four types of questions.
    3. Right There: These questions  are easy to write and answer. The answer is usually in one sentence.
    4. Think and Search: These questions are also easy to write and answer, but it takes more time to think and search through the text because the answers are spread out throughout the text.
    5. Author and You: These are the most difficult questions to write and answer, but are the ones that show you truly understand the text. The answer is not in the story, but the author gives you clues. Also you need to use your background knowledge to help you.
    6. On My Own: These are quite easy to write and answer because these are generally your thoughts and opinions about a topic. You could even answer these questions without reading!
    7. To study, come up with as many right there, think and search, author and you, and on my own questions as you can. Try to write more author and you questions! Pretend you are the teacher and you are creating the test! Make sure your questions cover all the notes.

    15.  One-Sentence Summaries

    1. Use this tool after reading.
    2. Create as many summaries as you can so that the story or topic has been covered.
    3. Compare and Contrast: ___________ and _____________ are similar in that they both …, but ____________ …., while ___________.....
    4. Description: A _________________ is a kind of _______________ that …
    5. Sequence: The story begins with …, continues with…and ends with…
    6. Problem/Solution: _________ wanted …, but …., so…
    7. Cause and Effect: _____________ happened because…. Or ________ caused ….

    16.  Sticky Notes

    1. Use this tool while you are reading.
    2. Mark important main ideas and details
    3. Mark words you don’t know or can’t read.
    4. Mark what you don’t understand.
    5. Mark what you do understand.
    6. Mark what is interesting or brings out an emotion.
    7. Use sticky notes to study by taking the information written on the sticky notes to summarize and organize the information by using another tool.

    17.  Power Notes

    1. Use this tool to take notes either during or after reading.
    2. This is a simple form of outlining.
    3. Power 1’s are the main ideas.
    4. Power 2’s support the power ones.
    5. Power 3’s support the power twos.
    6. Remember to choose the important details!

    18.  RAFT (A writing tool)

    1. This strategy will help you write creative papers.
    2. R—What role will you take on? Who will you be?
    3. A—Who is your audience?
    4. F—What format will your writing be in?
    5. T—What is your topic?

    19.  Vocabulary Word Maps

    1. Looking for a way to really understand the meaning of words?
    2. Vocabulary Maps may include definitions, synonyms, antonyms, syllables, pictures, sentences, and/or word origins.


    1. Plugged In  by Carolyn Wicks, Janet Peregoy and Jo Wheeler, 2001, Class Action Coast to Coast Connection
    2. Project CRISS  by Carol M. Santa, Lynn T. Havens, Bonnie J. Valdes, 2004, Kendall-Hunt