Use ProCon.org headline articles to help students learn how to highlight their assigned readings effectively by practicing how to distill main ideas from an informational text.
Provide each student with a copy of a recent ProCon.org headline article. Ask students, working individually, to find three excerpts from the article (two sentences maximum per excerpt) that expresses its main idea. After collecting the excerpts, students should compare their choices with a partner. They should discuss how they found each excerpt and why it works well, and engage in a collaborative description of their own thought processes. Bring the class back together and conduct a seminar-style discussion about the article and the excerpts chosen by the students to represent the main idea. Use the following questions to spark discussion about the merits of each excerpt:
What made you choose that sentence?
Do you think your excerpt is as good as this other one? Why or why not?
How does this excerpt help you state the main idea in your own words?
What else do you wish was in this excerpt?
What does this excerpt tell someone who hasn't read the article?
Is the sentence a fact or an opinion? How do you know?