It’s the phrase every teacher dreads (besides “district-wide team-building exercise”), and it comes straight from the mouths of students: “When the heck am I going to use this?” Fortunately, learning to effectively annotate a text—or becoming a good note-taker—is one of those magic skills for which you can retort, “With literally everything you read or study from now until you die…and for the last time, please put away your phones.”
As we’ve covered already, annotation is a powerful art for a student to master, not only for lifelong literacy but also for building critical-thinking skills and synthesizing new and complex information into memorable chunks for later recall. In short, the ability to put ideas into one’s own words is integral to learning.
Chicago 8th grade public school teacher and LaunchPack user Linsey Rose surveyed about 60 of her pupils and recorded their thoughts on what learning to take good notes did for them:
- “Writing annotations helps me with reading text because I can always look back at them to help me answer questions in the future. Annotations are a small study guide for tests!” -Carmen G.
- “Annotating helps me get my thoughts together…” -Camilla E.
- “Annotations help me simplify my thoughts and reword anything that does not make sense.” -Aadit A.
- “When you are reading a very long passage and need to make a presentation on it, everything will already be laid out for you like an outline.” -Tabyri
HEIGHTENED COMPREHENSION & SYNTHESIS
- “If there is a word you don’t know, you could put a question mark by it to look it up. You can understand the text more if you know what the word means and what the author is trying to say.” -Adesuwa O.
- “Annotations help me to read extremely complicated text. I use the annotations I write to give a short hint of what a specific piece of the passage was about. I leave annotations by the most confusing parts [of a story] to later understand what the entire passage was about.” -Courtney S.
- “Taking notes helps me understand and summarize the text better because I analyze what I read.” -Mariana E.
- “If you are having a hard time understanding the text you can take notes on what you DO understand, and those notes help you to understand what you don’t know.” -Krystal H.
- “Annotating allows me to understand things quicker and complete assignments faster.” -Brittney F.
- “When I annotated a text I got a 100% on my test.” -Katelyn B.
We’d love to hear from you! How do you make annotations a part of the lesson in your classroom? If you’re a LaunchPack user, do your students take advantage of the annotation function? Submit answers to: [email protected].
Stay tuned for our next set of blogs, coming next week, filled with K-12 annotation activities for science and social studies classrooms.