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What is text-marking?

What is text marking?
Text-marking is a technique taught in schools to help children recognise the different features of a text. Find out how teachers explain the technique to children and how it can help with their comprehension of different types of texts.

What is text-marking?

Children are often asked to text-mark in literacy. This means highlighting, circling, underlining or labelling features of a text. The purpose of this is to make children aware of how different texts are set out and which features are used.

Text-marking would usually be done at the beginning of a unit of work, with the purpose of familiarising the children with a particular type of text.

For example: a child may be given a recount in the form of a newspaper article and then asked to do the following:

  • Highlight the headline in yellow
  • Circle the columns
  • Highlight the caption in blue
  • Put a box around the last paragraph
  • Highlight any time connectives in red

This activity would usually follow a session where a teacher would have shown the children various recount newspaper articles and then discussed the features with the children. The purpose of the above task would be to see if they were able to pick out the features for themselves. Text-marking each feature in a different colour would make the teacher aware of whether the children had understood the task or not.

Text-marking can also be done with fiction texts. For example: a teacher may want the children to take an in-depth look at one particular character in a story. They may give them a passage like the following and ask them to do the following task:

  • Highlight description of the woman in yellow
  • Highlight her speech in pink
  • Highlight the man's reactions to her in blue

This activity encourages children to think about what in the text constitutes description. They also need to think about the fact that speech is always presented in speech marks and consider what the word 'reaction' means.

The next step after this would be to start to infer information about the woman and the man and come to some conclusions about what sort of person she is and what their relationship is. They may be asked to make deductions about what has happened in the past or what may be about to happen.

Text-marking in numeracy

Text-marking can also be used in numeracy when tackling word problems. A teacher may show children a word problem like the following:

I have 340 marbles. I share them equally between 5 friends. How many marbles does each friend get?

The teacher may ask the children to highlight the words that show the operation that needs carrying out for this problem. (In this case you would expect them to highlight the words 'share them equally'.)

Teachers often need to spend some time going over language related to different mathematical operations before children are confident with this.

Why are children taught text-marking?

Text-marking is a useful activity as, instead of just reading a passage of text and discussing it, children are required to make their understanding of the text explicit by the use of markings which are visual. These visual markings help to make certain aspects of the text clearer to them, but also help the teacher to see how well they have understood a task.

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