About this Skill
Annotating texts refers to writing notes in a text while reading it—such as notes about important points, new terms, reactions, and questions.
Annotating is a form of active learning. It prompts students to deepen and express their comprehension of what they’re reading, identify questions, and stay on top of their reading work. It’s an important skill incollege, where students have more reading, and more advanced reading, than in high school.
Students are often used to highlighting texts, but manyeducators believe that annotating is a more effective way to learn. Highlighting does not require readers to actively express their understanding of what they’re reading—it’s a more passive form of learning.
In this lesson, you will introduce students to annotating and encourage them to consider using annotation to replace or supplement highlighting. The lesson’s suggested approach is to:
- Lead a short introductory discussion.
- Short example: Show students two to three paragraphs that you have annotated in advance. This should be the first few paragraphs of a two to three page text.
- Detailed demo/example: Lead a more detailed explanation of annotating, either by demonstrating how to annotate a text, or reviewing a copy of a two-three page text that you’ve annotated in advance.
- Arrange for students to practice, either during class or as homework.
- Follow up to see how students are using annotation, and whether they have questions.
Students will be able to:
- Explain why to annotate a text.
- Develop their individual methods of annotating.
- Practice using annotation skills with course readings.
The basic lesson is about 60 minutes.
- Purpose and Benefits of Annotating – 5 minutes
- Short Example of Annotation – 5 – 10 minutes
- Detailed Demo/Example – 10 minutes
- Practice and Discussion – 20 – 30 minutes (10 minutes individual annotating, and then about 15 minutes to discuss)
- Wrap-Up – 3 minutes
As noted, you can assign the annotation practice as homework rather than using classroom time. If you assign it as homework, allow about 10 – 15 minutes in the next class to discuss.
Follow-up: After this session, tell students to annotate texts as part of their next reading assignments. After they’ve had a chance to annotate two or three readings, review examples of their annotation notes and lead a discussion of what they found most helpful.