Love Notes, Part II: Grades 6-12 Valentine’s Day Annotation Strategy

February 9, 2017

Strengthen Middle and High School Students' Literacy Skills with This Valentine’s Day Annotation Strategy.

What’s not to love about a new annotation strategy? A purposeful annotation will answer the first question students often ask about a text: Why are we reading this? It will also inspire meaningful engagement with a text by allowing students to track their thoughts as they read. A purposeful annotation activity can help students formulate questions, identify important ideas, react to the text, and note connections they see among different texts.

Students uncover a deeper understanding of what they are reading—and what they are thinking as they read—when they take notes. There are a number of types of notes that students can take to build different reading comprehension strategies and skills.

The annotation activity below focuses on one note type, finding supporting evidence, which students will apply to several social studies readings. The entire activity asks students to find, explain, and analyze evidence, synthesize information, collaborate with a peer, and present what they found in a visual product.

Our first Valentine’s Day annotation blog focused on annotation activities to help students in grades PreK-5 build literacy skills in social studies. This blog provides a flexible Valentine’s Day activity that helps students in middle and high school strengthen their literacy skills in social studies and history. The activity can be leveled to either grade range by using the corresponding leveled LaunchPack content.

We’ve used Britannica LaunchPacks: Social Studies in these annotation activities. If you don’t already have access, you can get free access now to 1,600 curriculum-relevant subject Packs that include organized supplemental resources, such as informational text with annotation capabilities, media, timelines, maps, and primary sources. Give it a try, or use these strategies with your own classroom resources!

Activity: What Does Love Have to Do with It?

Grades 6-8 or Grades 9-12

Have students find evidence in one or more texts and explain how it supports an answer. Then have students determine the most important evidence to share and have them compare their found evidence with a peer.

• Use LaunchPacks Human Rights: Leaders (Grades 6–8) or Human Rights: Leaders (Grades 9­–12)

• Use LaunchPacks Human Rights: Women’s Rights (Grades 6–8) or Human Rights: Women’s Rights (Grades 9­–12)

• Use LaunchPacks Human Rights: Civil Rights (Grades 6–8) or Human Rights: Civil Rights (Grades 9­–12)

Martin Luther King, Jr., is a well-known example of a leader who believed that love and peaceful protest could eliminate social injustice. Have students pick an article about a leader featured in the Packs related to human rights (or a leader of their choice)—to examine how that person expressed love for humanity.


• Main question: What facts about this leader best express the love they had for humanity?

• Follow-up questions: What four actions did this person do that express concern for others? What sacrifices did this person make to help others? What hardships did this person face in order to do what he or she believed was right?


Add your questions for the class into a note for the entire Pack, since students will be exploring multiple articles. To do this, click Customize and then Add a Pack note. This note will carry over into the article view and students can see the questions as they read the text. Do this for each of the "Human Rights" LaunchPacks that you are using.

Model how to highlight text in the article using the color-coded “evidence” annotation category and type an explanation for why it supports an answer. Tell students to highlight text in the article within the pack that helps answer the questions as they read the article about the leader they chose to examine.

If students have trouble getting started, encourage them to answer one of the follow-up questions first. Tell students that they should explain why the highlighted text helps them answer the question in the box linked to each highlight.

Partner Presentation:

Have students share their answers and evidence with a partner who examined a different leader. Tell partners to complete a Venn diagram to identify the similarities and differences between how each of their leaders expressed a loved for humanity. Have partners briefly present their findings to the class or to small groups.

Note: If you already have access to Britannica LaunchPacks and need a quick refresher on how to annotate, watch this 2 minute video.