One of the first lessons I teach every single year, regardless of the grade-level I am teaching, is how to closely read and annotate a text. Because I feel this is such a valuable skill for students, I carve out a week of my instruction at the beginning of the school year to help my students get more comfortable with annotating text.
When I teach my students how to annotate text, I use a step-by-step PowerPoint presentation that breaks down the annotation process into five simple steps and provides examples for my students. I also provide them with guides and bookmarks to use as references as they annotate. I even encourage my students to keep these documents for their entire high school careers.
Here are three text annotation strategies I implement in my classroom.
1. Student Collaboration
The first strategy I use for teaching and practicing text annotation is that I have my students share and compare their annotations and margin notes with their table-mates. This not only gives them additional insight into how they can annotate, but it also helps to build their confidence when they notice that they have similar notes and markings as their peers.
2. Teacher Modeling
Another strategy I use is direct modeling. I model my own thought-process as I think aloud and annotate text with the document camera. I will set up a piece of paper, grab my annotation supplies (post-it notes, highlighters, pens, etc.), and think aloud as I annotate in front of the classroom.
3. Annotation Gallery Walks
A final way I like to reinforce my students’ annotation skills is by completing an annotation gallery walk. I will print out text with large font and place it throughout the room. My students will be placed in groups and each group will have 5-7 minutes to read the text, review the existing annotations, and add their own annotations to the chart. This is a great way to get students up and moving while working productively.
Some text that and classroom resources that work very well with these strategies include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and even various close reading passages from short stories.