Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Good Readers Annotate

I have been exploring reading skills that struggling readers lack.  I have already discussed making predictions and making connections.  A skill that I find students really lack is annotation.  If you were to pick up one of my novels off of my bookshelf, you would see notes scribbled all over the page.  Students, however, may have not have been taught what they should be writing in those margins, so they don't see the value of taking the time to jot down notes.  They may also be borrowing a copy of a text from the school, and therefore they can't write directly on the book that they are reading.  This is where A) a letter home suggesting that students may want to purchase their own copy of the novel and/or B) post it notes will come in very handy.


Things that are valuable to write in the margins as you read might include:

  • Questions- What does this mean?  Why did he do that? What do I think will happen next?
  • Connections- What does this remind me of?  What real world connections can I make?
  • Interpretations- What do I think the author means here?  What is she trying to make me think or feel?
  • Summaries- How can I put this into my own words?  What is the main idea or the most important thing that I should take away from this part of the text?
  • Vocabulary- What does this word mean?  Why did the author make this diction choice?
  • Preferences- Did I like or dislike this part or this character?  Why?
  • Surprises- I expected something else- why am I surprised by this?
  • Major Moments- Something big just happened.  What do I think it might mean?
  • Characterization- The character just had a turning point. How do I know?  How do I think the character will be changed?
  • Literary Devices- I noticed that the author used a literary device or figurative language. Why would the author choose to do this? 


Once you model annotation with your students, ensure that they understand when to annotate, and allow them to practice this skill, I believe that they will see improvement in their reading comprehension skills.  Not only is annotation something that helps readers in the real world, but annotation is a skill that will help kids to do better on their reading comprehension standardized exams.  While teachers don't want to feel that they are "teaching to the text," we also want our students to feel confident and prepared when those exams come around.

Food for Thought... Have you taught your students how to annotate text?  How did it go?

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