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 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 secondary 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. 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!
I sell my Annotating Text Made Easy lesson in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It goes over both of these points as it walks students (and teachers) step-by-step through the annotating process. This resource is a zipped file that contains an editable PowerPoint presentation and a PDF filled with an annotation guide and annotation activity with suggested answer key (& more). I’ve used this lesson for an observation in the past, and my administrators were very pleased with the thoroughness of the lesson and with how engaged the students were.
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