Google+ Badge

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Don't Underline Key Words? Why Not?

Many math education experts say, "Don't tell students to underline key words!"

I disagree.

Those math experts think of key words as words that determine a specific algorithm or thinking about a problem. I define key words differently. I think of key words as any important words in a problem or text.

As one who gets quickly swayed and confused by too much text, it's so helpful for me to read with a pencil underlining as I go along. I underline the words that help me solve a problem or decipher the text for deeper meaning.

The simple act of underlining seems to send a message to the brain that says, "This is important--don't forget it!" Recent research on hand-brain connection seems to affirm this.

Another good reason for underlining is that it slows you down and makes you focus on the text.

Once I started using my pen to read well, my reading speed and comprehension increased tenfold. Not only do I underline key words but I follow this common process:
  • Focus on the question or problem. Understand what the job is.
  • Read with care; underline and write notes that pertain to the job, goal, problem, or solution.
  • Read over and organize the notes to inform your solution.
  • Check over your work.
Hence, I disagree with those who tell students not to underline key words--underlining slows you down and helps you to find your way through complex text which better prepares you for finding the desired solution and/or information.  That's been my experience. 

Let me know if and why you disagree.