Practicing active reading is not just a test prep strategy; it is a growth strategy for all readers. When we approach a text actively, we read to learn and engage in a dialogue of sorts. We ask questions and read actively to find answers. Most teachers encourage annotation already, but many students don’t take advantage of the practice when it comes to assessments. You can help your students by giving them a key for annotation – maybe an underline means “main idea” and circling means “supporting details.” Annotating a text allows readers to quickly return to key parts of the text to locate answers to questions about universal aspects of the text and key details.
- Requires students engage in active reading.
- Encourages students to ask questions and read actively to find answers.
- Allows readers to quickly return to key parts of the passage to locate answer to questions about universal aspects of the text and key details.
Before reading, students should...
- Review the title of the text.
- Review any pictures or visuals that accompany the text.
- Review an overview of the text, if provided.
During reading, students should...
- Underline or highlight parts of the text.
- Be sure to annotate so that they can slow down.
- Keep track of any type of thinking so that they can revisit it later.
- Use a consistent structure and respond to prompts provided to ensure they are appropriately addressing the text.
After reading, students should...
- Reread their annotations.
- Use their annotations and notes when responding to a prompt on the text.
Strategies for Scaffolding Annotation
Encourage students to annotate with peers to deepen their understanding as well as perspectives on a text. For example, consider a gradual release of annotation:
- “I Do It” → Project a reading and model the annotation strategy for students. Provide a variety of types of annotation (questions, comments, reactions) and acknowledge the importance and use of each of them.
- “We Do It” → Have students participate in an annotation in a small group or whole class. Share out annotations and discuss the type of annotation that was done.
- “You Do It Together” → Have students annotate in pairs. Encourage students to take a different goal in their annotation so they can share their learning with their partner.
- “You Do It Alone” → Have students annotate individually. Make sure to give them feedback promptly.
Provide students with guidance on what they should look for when re-reading the text to annotate. In this example, students are asked to annotate considering the benefits and issues of mandatory voting. Remind students that there are many reasons and ways to annotate, but this is one way to ensure students are ready to deliberately re-read the text.
The Mechanics of Annotation: For Students
- Do: Write your annotation as a quick note--fewer than two sentences.
Don’t: Write a lengthy full response to a question.
- Do: Highlight a few words or phrases for each annotation or close reading prompt.
Don’t: Highlight the entire text.
- Do: Work with classmates to share thinking; consider using a Think-Pair-Share or Turn-and-Face.
Don’t: Work alone.
- Do: Start annotating with a purpose or a goal answering a larger question or deepening your critical thinking.
Don’t: Write only your reactions to the text.