With the new school year on the horizon, many teachers across the nation, myself included, are preparing for the back-to-school season. The first few days back to school after summer break are always a bit chaotic: students’ schedules are changing, the new year’s routine is beginning, and teachers and students are getting to know one another.
Once the ice-breakers and getting to know you activities of the first week back to school are over, I like to teach my students a quick lesson on annotating text before diving into our short story unit.
There are two reasons why I start the school year with teaching annotation: one, I find it to be a very useful skill that helps students in all areas of the school; two, I want all of my students on the same page (or at least the same chapter) when it comes to reading text; and three, knowing how to annotate text is part of the common core curriculum. Also, I like to teach this in the beginning so that students don’t highlight an entire document.
One of the most important aspects of teaching annotating text to middle school and high school students is to emphasize tackling just a small section of text at a time. All too often high school students will dive right into too much of a challenging text at a time. That only creates frustration. With teaching annotating text, you want to make sure that students only work with a small portion of text at a time. This allows the students to really look at and understand what the text means. Don’t be afraid to ask students to read just 1-3 sentences at a time. The goal as you annotate is to read the text closely, not in its entirety at once.
Another thing I emphasize when teaching text annotation to my students is to go back and reread all of your notes and annotations to make sure that they still make sense and to see if there is anything else that can be added. For example, as you read through more of the text, you might find that the meaning has changed, or that, perhaps, you have a deeper understanding of the first few paragraphs now that you’ve read the entire document!
Helpful resources for teaching annotating: