I’m all about annotation. I teach TEXT CODES right at the beginning of the school year and my students can refer to them all year long. It’s more than a close read. It’s about really having them interacting with a text in a meaningful way.
I start with the basic text codes. Below is my sample. It’s on page 9 (which falls after the Table of Contents and the Words Worth Knowing sections). The kids start the year by highlighting big chunks of text and making few annotations, but as the year progresses, they get better and better at identifying key elements, making connections, and really thinking about how they use their text codes.
Once they’ve mastered annotating in general, we move on to Signposts, a concept Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst in Note & Notice’s Reading Nonfiction. Their method of using Signposts takes close reading and interaction with text to the next level. It leads students through questioning strategies, which are key to understanding text and making personal connections.
We will begin with our nonfiction signposts as soon as we get back from our winter break, and I’ve already readied my “Teacher’s Edition-ISN” for the notetaking. Because I love Flair pens and color and organization and, well, pretty much all office supplies!
One of my goals is teaching my students organization. Their ISNs become a reference tool for them, and we review and/or turn back to that information regularly. Rather than just giving them a handout (although I will do this for those with accommodations), I like to have them actually write down their information in an organized fashion. It’s an extra step that helps them internalize what we’re learning.
Below are my nonfiction signpost pages. This is what I hope most of my students’ pages will also look like (perhaps minus all the color)! I’ll give them the signposts to cut out, because even in 7th grade, they love cutting. They’ll use rulers to draw their lines and then they’ll take their notes. In the end, they’ll use these pages and their notes to learn to interact more deeply with whatever nonfiction text they’re reading. My hope is that it will become second-nature to them. For many my hope will be realized!