When I was a sophomore in high school I was assigned selections from Hamlet to read in my English class. I read it, understood it, and took notes in the margins as I was asked to do. But the following day I was told I didn’t have “enough” annotations and was assigned a detention (a Friday Evening Inconvenience – it was boarding school).
But what is “enough” when it comes to annotation? As a college student I think I finally learned to annotate so that my thinking – at the time I took the note – was clear to me when it came time to use the note.
I think that, as teachers, we need to help students connect to the text through annotation. This starts with how we select the text and how we select the assign the annotation. We have to give them clear guidelines and support. Annotation is a skill that needs to be developed
Chunk – How can you break up longer texts?
Purpose – What’s the learning objective? Make this explicit to the students so you can all begin with the end in mind
Quantify – How many comments do you expect per paragraph, per page?
Notations – What do you want to see in the margins? Symbols, questions, definitions, specific connections? Symbols or color coding should include a key each time.
Rereads – When you need them to reread for fluency or in a coaching group, give them a different purpose or lens for the next read
We can use technology or low tech tools to support students through universal design.
- Color coded sticky notes with questions or comments written on them
- Hypertext annotation to definitions, expansion of ideas, etc.
- Kami – potential shared annotation
- Google Docs – comments in the margins
- A document camera will allow you to model the annotation, with out-loud metacognitive thinking about why and how you are annotating, for students. Some document cameras will allow you to record the whole thing for playback later.
There is no way to ruin a trend like having teachers adopt it.
But I love this! And there is a Google Chrome extension for inserting bitmoji into documents‽‽‽ Life changing. So simple yet so so good.
I feel ridiculously proud of myself right now because I figured out how to make an interactive notebook that students can keep in Google Drive and edit as they (and I) see fit. There are some outstanding ones on Teachers Pay Teachers so my new goal is to make great ones that are specific to AP Language and AP Seminar. Wish me luck. I’ll need it.
So, here is what I came up with. My friend Amy got some outstanding tips on multiple choice from the AP conference this summer and so we have been incorporating more consistent reflection after full-length multiple choice practice. The issue though is that my students lose their forms from the last go around of reflection so can’t comment insightfully enough to help them grow as I would expect.
I just adapted the form that we use with the school colors (black and gold) as the background and their junior class color (blue) as the editable areas.
DIGITAL notebook AP MC Profile
Because we work on multiple choice every Monday in AP Lang, it’s great to change up the approach to it a little. I got a set of Plickr cards at the ISTE conference this summer and they’ve been a hit with students. My only complaint is there are only four answer options when AP questions always have five choices. It just means I need to spend a little more time editing before class.
Each Plickr card is assigned to a student so data is saved. Augmented reality through the Plickr app on my phone is a great way for me to get a quick read of the class. THe cards are directional and the corresponding letter for the answer choice is on the front so kids know which way to turn.
Years ago, when Twitter was first emerging as a social network, I encouraged my seniors in Digital Composition to use it in class as a way to comment on literature. I think it was in 2009 or 2010 and it was mostly successful. Students hadn’t heard of Twitter at that point though and they didn’t really “get” the point of sharing and discussing on a public forum.
Over time, I started using Twitter more for a Professional Learning Network (PLN). I had trouble attending Twitter chats but I followed hashtags and conversations the next morning to find out what was current and compelling for other educators around the country.
This year, one of my teaching collaborators for AP Language & Composition realized we needed to meet students where they are, on Twitter, as we strive to make sure they have exposure to and working knowledge of current events. On the AP Lang exam students need to have a wide variety of CHELPS (Current events, History, Experience, Literature, Pop culture, Sports/Science) to help them with evidence on the argument.
So, we came up with a hashtag for our classes – #southaplang – and very short ones for each teacher so we can keep them straight. Every Monday we send out a tweet with a question or request for comments and a link to an article on a trending topic or a popular idea in the media.
So far… it’s awesome! Kids without Twitter accounts can turn in their tweets on paper or any other method if they prefer. A few students created new Twitter accounts just for this assignment to keep the tweets separate from their personal accounts. And we don’t need to follow them because we can find their tweets with the hashtags.
In the same vein as my flipped lesson for Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, this is a flipped lesson for AP Language students on Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, Daniel Pink’s Drive, and Angela Duckworth’s work on the importance of developing grit in students. This incorporates the standard WSQ assignment, class discussions (both in class and online), thesis statement building, rhetorical analysis, mind maps (for organizing ideas), reflective writing, formal argument writing, public speaking, and Socratic seminar.
What is success and how do we find it?
1) WSQ – Rhetorical Modes – read and annotate “How to Read Like a Writer” by Mike Bunn
2) online discussion on Drive video
3) Grit survey
4) WSQ (in-class) – Grit TED talk
5) reflective essay on Grit (using the question from the WSQ)
6) analysis and annotation on chapter of Outliers
7) coaching group on assigned chapter
8) read selection of Drive in class – discussion on the argument and content
9) informal presentation on the chapter of Outliers
10) WSQ & discussion – de Botton TED talk on kinder definition of success
11) read two reviews of Outliers – rhetorical précis for each – how valid and relevant is the criticism?
12) another selection from Drive – read and discuss
13) Mind Map of ideas from all of the sources
14) 4 square discussion – develop a thesis statement
15) question writing for seminar – What is success and how do we find it?
17) argument essay – begin from the class-developed thesis statement
This was created with some collaboration with my friend Amy Habberstad.