Why I Teach Text Annotation During the First Week of School

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.

How to teach annotating text to middle and high school students.

How to teach annotating text to middle and high school students.
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!
Annotating Text Made Easy: Ideal for middle and high school students.
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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15 comments:

  1. That's a great idea. Setting students up to succeed before diving into reading stories. Very smart move!

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  2. Even my college students could benefit from this type of lesson! It truly is a skill that will help with all studies!

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    1. Thanks, Ms. Fuller. It's great to hear that this is something that can benefit college students as well :)

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  3. Our English department at my school is trying to come up with a common set of annotation rules for the entire school. I think it would be so powerful for each teacher in the building to use the same set of symbols each time they do a close reading in EVERY subject.

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    1. That is such a great idea, Ashely. A common school-wide annotation key would help students so much. Just imagine how prepared they would be for college!

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  4. This is such a necessary skill to start with. Not only does it benefit students for your English class, but also helps them in every other class they have from here on out. Great idea!

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    1. Thanks! I think I am going to add in some cartoons first! That was such a great idea you had!

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  5. I agree that annotation and close reading are so important to start with. I've noticed that if we don't guide students in the annotation process, they will often just highlight everything without any purpose! Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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    1. I am pretty sure I highlighted without a purpose well into college. It just wasn't a skill that was taught.

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  6. A very important skill. I agree that they need to be reminded to go back over those notes. I know I've make notes that make ZERO sense a few days later!! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Love the idea of teaching annotating text to secondary students by tackling just a small section of text at a time. It's so true that they often confront too much challenging text at a time and become overwhelmed. terrific approach:-) . Thanks! Ellen

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    1. Thanks, Ellen. I think we are all guilty of trying to take on too much text at a time.

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  8. I wish someone had taught this to me in such an in-depth manner when I was in school! Thank you for sharing these tips!

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