How can teachers show their students how to actively read and annotate a text?
The Issue: Many students do not know how to actively read a text; in fact, when they annotate, they usually highlight everything they see, which does the student no good.
I have annotated MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and like to use this as a model in my AP Language class. I have students identify rhetorical devices, classical appeals, and choices in syntax, diction, and organization. Before I show this to students, I make sure they read the letter and analyze it first. We usually have a mixture of Socratic Seminars, in-class discussion, group analysis, and individual analysis.
One of the best ways to annotate in a way that is readable for students is to type your document in MS Word and to insert comments where you would like to make an annotation. This gives you a legible record of notes (many teachers, myself included, have pages of penciled-in text, almost impossible for anyone else to read. This might be helpful for the teachers, but is useless as a model for students).
Directions for Inserting Comments into a Word Document:
1. Click the “review” tag at the top of the page. It is the second to the right, before “view”.
2. Simply click “new comment.” You will see a red line and a yellow box appear. This will be connected to the text you block, so make sure you are highlighting the text you want to comment before you press the comment icon.
3. If you have an older version of Word (1997-2003) the directions are a bit different. You will press the “inset” button at the top of the page, and then press “comment”. Click below for my example.