signposts

Annotating for Active Reading: Post-It Notes and File Folders

This fall my 8th graders have practiced Notice and Note annotation strategies as well as those from Cris Tovani.  I have not required my 8th graders to annotate their independent reading, but earlier this month, I felt annotating their reading for an in-class reading day would be beneficial for my students.  I also felt this might be a gentle way of starting to scaffold their annotating for TQE discussions that we’ll do in January 2020.   I created mini-versions of notes/handouts I had already given the students and condensed them to “marry” them to a TQE framework, integrating our existing annotation strategies as well as Beers and Probst’s “3 Big Questions.”  Here is the result:

You can make a copy of these handouts I created here:

Because I had lost my voice due to an upper respiratory infection, I had students engage in a quick partner reading of the instructions.  Pairs then summarized the instructions and what they needed to do during their independent reading time.  I then shared a completed model I did over Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes.

Students were asked to complete 6 annotations:  two “thoughts”, two “questions”, and two “epiphanies”.   I provided a basket of Post-It notes in varying colors, sizes, and styles at every table area for students to use.  In addition, I gave every student a file folder with his/her name on it to place their sticky notes.  When students finished annotating at the end of the period, they organized and placed their notes in the folder to turn in to me.  The folder system is something I am trying so that I can grade annotation work with Post-Its but not have to collect a zillion bulky composition books.  When the folders are returned to students, they get a scored rubric of their work and can transfer the Post-It notes to their course binder.

I found this to be an easy way to nudge students to read a little more actively but not overwhelm them with the act of annotating.  We’ll use this system of collecting and sharing annotations when we begin our literary nonfiction and memoir book clubs in January as well as with our independent reading next semester.  I feel like the folders (which I keep once the students remove their work) are a simple but easy to use vehicle for collecting and checking the annotation as a formative assessment.  You can make a copy of the rubric I created by clicking here.

How do you encourage active reading and annotating in a meaningful and manageable way?

Navigating Our Nonfiction Books with Notice and Note Signposts

As you read in my last blog post, my students have started reading their self-selected nonfiction books.  Our first in-class reading day was last Thursday, April 11.    To help my students jump into their books with some purposeful annotation that would not overwhelm them, we reviewed both the Notice and Note nonfiction signposts as well as the fiction since some students are reading literary nonfiction.  I crafted a double-sided bookmark, and we reviewed each signpost strategy as students added the following shortcut/hashtag annotation codes to use on their “baby” sized sticky notes:

During our class reading time, students were asked to annotate any three signposts they noticed and to flag the sticky note next to the passage where they saw the signpost.  While students could annotate more than three, three was the minimum, and students needed at least three unique signposts.  These signpost annotations have been part of our informal book club meetings today, and it has been interesting to hear students discuss and even debate some of the signpost choices within their groups.  I like this method of integrating the signposts into our active reading work because it is enough to nudge student thinking without overwhelming students with the act of annotation.