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September 20, 2016

Engage Readers and Increase Comprehension: Annotate Text

By Mary Blow
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Annotating the text is the most effective method that I have found to engage my students in close reading activities. It is also the most difficult skill that I ever taught my sixth graders. To say we experienced epic failure is an understatement, but from failure, success was born. Below is an annotation lesson that I use in my classroom. My hope is to save you the frustration we experienced, to help your students become more engaged readers, and to increase their comprehension of the texts.

     

    Materials:

    Preparing for the Lesson

    Before you begin, it is important to have a clear goal. Some teachers have students annotate for a specific outcome such as identifying text details that support a written response question — a great test-taking skill. Others ask them to annotate for the main idea of the article, a bit more abstract approach, but certainly demonstrates comprehension of the text.

    Younger students or struggling readers benefit from focusing on making one type of connection at a time. For example, you might focus on explaining how the heading of each section connects to the text. Or, you might focus on annotations that explain how the text features add to their understanding of an article. This is time-consuming, but sometimes necessary. Establish a goal that best meets the needs of your students.

    My primary goal at the beginning of the year is to launch my article of the week assignments. Part of this assignment is that my sixth graders annotate the passage, demonstrating an insightful comprehension of the text. Last year, I created a Nonfiction Annotation Guide listing the different ways that engaged readers interact with the text. It is now an anchor chart on our classroom wall. My students relish this guide and keep a copy in their notebooks.

    Select a short article that is rich in nonfiction text features. I am extremely grateful that Scholastic Science World magazine gave you permission to make copies of "Reefs in Peril" to use in your classroom (September 2016).

    Look at the title, a clue to the rich vocabulary. It is riddled with fantastic text features: title, subtitle, headings, photos, captions, map, and a sidebar with infographics. The article is two pages, long enough to provide teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice, but not so long that it overwhelms the students.

    Prepare for stumbling blocks. Is there a concept that will be more challenging for your students? For example, my sixth graders often struggle with text structure, so in this beginning-of-the-year article, I scaffold text structure annotations, telling them that structure shifts in the text, but to be on the lookout for a section of text that is structured using a cause and effect organization. Their job is to identify the section, label it, and identify relevant details.

    Before Reading

    Before reading, introduce the Nonfiction Annotation Guide and discuss the different types of annotations that demonstrate insightful connections that good readers make when reading.

    Next, engage the students in a 30-second preview of the text. Skim the title, subtitle, headings, captions, and images. Identify the topic and make predictions. As a whole class, brainstorm what they learned without even reading the passage. My students are amazed at how much easier the reading is once they have established a mindset. Some students may start talking about going to the beach. Great! They are starting to think and making connections. Remind students that good readers make text to self-text-world connections. They also look for relationships between the images and infographics.

    During Reading

    Begin by reading the introductory section to the class, stopping to think aloud. Use my teacher-annotated article to guide you. Students follow along, writing the teacher annotations, so they have accurate, insightful examples. Finally, I stop to add a summary statement for this section, a short phrase that states what the section is mainly about. 

    The second section, “A Heated Problem,” is guided practice. After completing individual annotations, my sixth graders share their annotations with a partner, editing and revising if necessary.

    Discuss any circled words where students used the vocabulary strategies listed in the Nonfiction Annotation Guide. Provide time for the groups to share. Sharing is extremely important because students need to see how good readers think. I use Scholastic’s Word Workshop to create a word wall of key words — a reference tool for the article summary writing activity.

    The “Hope for Corals” section is completed independently. If we have enough time, we start homework in class, so I can work with struggling readers.

    After Reading

    The next day, students come to class with their homework completed and ready to share. Sharing launches my next lesson, writing a paragraph summary of the article. I observed that the more engaged they become with the text, the more insightful their discussions and written responses become.

    Grading Annotations

    Grading doesn’t take any time at all using the 5-Point Annotation Rubric. While students are writing their summary, I walk around and grade the annotations. If a few students are still struggling, we work in a small group.

    Even though I introduce annotation skills using articles of the week, you can use this lesson with any close reading assignment. As the year progresses, my sixth graders’ annotations become even more insightful as we focus on higher-level analysis of the text.

    Additional Close Reading Resources

    Happy annotating!

    Mary


    #SmartTeachingTips Social Media Contest
    You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!
     
    Simply share how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips. Three winners will be chosen based on the most creative submissions. Thanks for sharing—and good luck!

    (No purchase required. Open to U.S. teachers of grades pre-K–12 who are 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Ends 11:59 PM EST 11/13/16. For complete rules, visit http://bit.ly/2dn2p2m.)

    Annotating the text is the most effective method that I have found to engage my students in close reading activities. It is also the most difficult skill that I ever taught my sixth graders. To say we experienced epic failure is an understatement, but from failure, success was born. Below is an annotation lesson that I use in my classroom. My hope is to save you the frustration we experienced, to help your students become more engaged readers, and to increase their comprehension of the texts.

     

    Materials:

    Preparing for the Lesson

    Before you begin, it is important to have a clear goal. Some teachers have students annotate for a specific outcome such as identifying text details that support a written response question — a great test-taking skill. Others ask them to annotate for the main idea of the article, a bit more abstract approach, but certainly demonstrates comprehension of the text.

    Younger students or struggling readers benefit from focusing on making one type of connection at a time. For example, you might focus on explaining how the heading of each section connects to the text. Or, you might focus on annotations that explain how the text features add to their understanding of an article. This is time-consuming, but sometimes necessary. Establish a goal that best meets the needs of your students.

    My primary goal at the beginning of the year is to launch my article of the week assignments. Part of this assignment is that my sixth graders annotate the passage, demonstrating an insightful comprehension of the text. Last year, I created a Nonfiction Annotation Guide listing the different ways that engaged readers interact with the text. It is now an anchor chart on our classroom wall. My students relish this guide and keep a copy in their notebooks.

    Select a short article that is rich in nonfiction text features. I am extremely grateful that Scholastic Science World magazine gave you permission to make copies of "Reefs in Peril" to use in your classroom (September 2016).

    Look at the title, a clue to the rich vocabulary. It is riddled with fantastic text features: title, subtitle, headings, photos, captions, map, and a sidebar with infographics. The article is two pages, long enough to provide teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice, but not so long that it overwhelms the students.

    Prepare for stumbling blocks. Is there a concept that will be more challenging for your students? For example, my sixth graders often struggle with text structure, so in this beginning-of-the-year article, I scaffold text structure annotations, telling them that structure shifts in the text, but to be on the lookout for a section of text that is structured using a cause and effect organization. Their job is to identify the section, label it, and identify relevant details.

    Before Reading

    Before reading, introduce the Nonfiction Annotation Guide and discuss the different types of annotations that demonstrate insightful connections that good readers make when reading.

    Next, engage the students in a 30-second preview of the text. Skim the title, subtitle, headings, captions, and images. Identify the topic and make predictions. As a whole class, brainstorm what they learned without even reading the passage. My students are amazed at how much easier the reading is once they have established a mindset. Some students may start talking about going to the beach. Great! They are starting to think and making connections. Remind students that good readers make text to self-text-world connections. They also look for relationships between the images and infographics.

    During Reading

    Begin by reading the introductory section to the class, stopping to think aloud. Use my teacher-annotated article to guide you. Students follow along, writing the teacher annotations, so they have accurate, insightful examples. Finally, I stop to add a summary statement for this section, a short phrase that states what the section is mainly about. 

    The second section, “A Heated Problem,” is guided practice. After completing individual annotations, my sixth graders share their annotations with a partner, editing and revising if necessary.

    Discuss any circled words where students used the vocabulary strategies listed in the Nonfiction Annotation Guide. Provide time for the groups to share. Sharing is extremely important because students need to see how good readers think. I use Scholastic’s Word Workshop to create a word wall of key words — a reference tool for the article summary writing activity.

    The “Hope for Corals” section is completed independently. If we have enough time, we start homework in class, so I can work with struggling readers.

    After Reading

    The next day, students come to class with their homework completed and ready to share. Sharing launches my next lesson, writing a paragraph summary of the article. I observed that the more engaged they become with the text, the more insightful their discussions and written responses become.

    Grading Annotations

    Grading doesn’t take any time at all using the 5-Point Annotation Rubric. While students are writing their summary, I walk around and grade the annotations. If a few students are still struggling, we work in a small group.

    Even though I introduce annotation skills using articles of the week, you can use this lesson with any close reading assignment. As the year progresses, my sixth graders’ annotations become even more insightful as we focus on higher-level analysis of the text.

    Additional Close Reading Resources

    Happy annotating!

    Mary


    #SmartTeachingTips Social Media Contest
    You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!
     
    Simply share how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips. Three winners will be chosen based on the most creative submissions. Thanks for sharing—and good luck!

    (No purchase required. Open to U.S. teachers of grades pre-K–12 who are 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Ends 11:59 PM EST 11/13/16. For complete rules, visit http://bit.ly/2dn2p2m.)

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