Annotation Skills

 In this month’s February 2013 Principal Leadership magazine, I came across an article Annotation:  Noting Evidence for Later Use by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.  

Why are annotation skills important to teach?
According to the Writing Center at Colorado State University…
“Annotating is an important skill to employ if you want to read critically.  Successful critical readers read with a pencil in their hand, making notes in the text as they read.  Instead of reading passively, they create an active relationship with what they are reading by “talking bck” to the text in its margins.”  (P. 49-50)

They offered the following suggestions and thoughts on the importance of teaching our students how to critically read and annotate.  First, it is important to model annotation for your students to explicitly teach them the skills. Second, show them on the ipad how they can use the ipad for annotation of information as they read and search for the information and notes later.

Most common annotation marks include:

  • Underlining for major points
  • Vertical lines in the margin to mark longer statements too long to underline
  • Star or asterisks to use to emphasize important statements
  • Mark the upper corner of a page where important sections were noted
  • Numbers in the margins to show sequence of points by the author
  • Circle of key words
  • Writing notes to record questions

Teachers can ask questions in the following areas to help students to better analyze their texts:

  • General Understanding
  • Key Details
  • Vocabulary
  • Author’s Purpose
  • Inferences
  • Opinions/Arguments

Video of a teacher modeling strategies for annotating text:

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