The Importance of Annotation

annotation

“Annotation.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/annotation&gt;.

This Thursday and Friday we are working with two types of annotations as described by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst in Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading. The district had a book study last year and the high school teachers decided to adopt the concepts as a reading strategy for close reading.

The Annotations

Contrast and Contradictions – CC 

When a character behaves in a way that is contradictory or unexpected given how he or she usually acts. Ask yourself WHY he or she would act this way!

Aha! Moment – !

The character realizes or starts to realize something that changes his or her actions or thinking. Ask yourself WHAT the character might do now!

Writing on the Text?!

Since students do not buy their own textbooks in our district, they have been taught to not write in them. This is counterproductive to the concept of annotation! Copies of texts and alternate methods of annotating will be provided throughout the school year.

Annotating does several things to help readers, such as

  1. Slowing them down so they actually read what is on the page! We’ve all read something quickly, put it down, and then said to ourselves, “I have no idea what I just read.” Instead of just skimming over words to get an assignment done, students have to slow down and actually read the words so they can write about the story.
  2. Getting them to think about what they are reading. So what? and Why are we reading this? are popular questions in language arts. Students tend to see stories as just stories and they move on without wondering about what themes and messages the author of the text is trying to get across. Once they start thinking about the events, characters, motivations, and conflicts, they start connecting with the stories and even extending what happens to their own lives.
  3. Helping them to understand what is confusing about a text. “I don’t get it!” “Well, what are you confused about?” Because annotation includes marking what you don’t understand, it makes us think about where our brains lose track of what’s going on. Then, we can go back and find answers for questions or at least know what questions to ask the next day in class!
  4. Building confidence to encourage independent reading. Because annotating deepens our understanding of a text, it makes us better readers. When we get better at something, we are more likely to do it again and maybe even pick up a book about that movie we loved or that topic that caught our interest in another class. Gasp! Reading for pleasure!

While not all people fall in love with reading, annotating will certainly help them understand what they’re reading more thoroughly and in greater depth. As we learn more specific things to look for while reading for language arts skills, our list of annotations will grow!

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