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Annotating Together: An Activity for Building Reading Strategies

By Jessica Aggrey | 7/13/2018

It’s been my experience that many of my students are hesitant to write on a text. However, it’s so important for them to develop effective reading strategies, one of which certainly is annotation and note taking while reading. I got this great idea from my colleague Aree Metz during a collaborative meeting we had today, and I can’t wait to try it out this semester. It’s a great activity for introducing annotation and helping students see different ways that they can annotate a text. Check out the directions below to learn how to do this activity in your class. 


  1. Pick a paragraph from a text similar to one your students will read in the class. Type it onto a piece of paper in large font. Print enough copies for all of the groups. Tape the paper to the center of poster papers and put these around the room. 
  2. Put students into groups of 3-5 and give them 5 – 10 minutes to read through the paragraph and work together to annotate it.
    1. It’s up to you to decide how much info you want to give them in advance. I imagine I’ll write a simple definition on the board such as “Annotation is marking a text in a way that helps you understand it better and more easily access it later. Work together to annotate this paragraph.” I don’t want to front-load the activity too much since it’s designed to help students get a better understanding of annotation through doing.
  3. Next, have students go around the room and look at all the different ways each group annotated and responded to the passage.
  4. Finally, lead a larger class discussion on the topic. Work together to create a list of the different annotation strategies that the groups used. Keep this list either in the classroom or on the class’s LMS. You can add to the list throughout the semester as more strategies surface. 

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