Archive for Annotation

Close Reading Through Repetition

To students, annotating a text is just underlining a bunch of random words and phrases.  However, underlining does not indicate a close reading.  It might indicate comprehension, it might indicate completion, but it doesn’t provide clear evidence that the student knows the intricacies of the passage. Read more

Directions for Using Awesome Highlighter

Okay, now that you have pulled together a list of things for your students to read over Spring Break it’s time to start putting those texts into a format that can follow them anywhere they go, even if out of the country.  All your students need is internet access, which many of them have on their cell phones. Read more

Resource for Annotating Text

Ah, Spring Break.  Breathe it in.  Feel it.  It’s here.  Feels nice, right?  However, even during this week of rest and relaxation I still have worries.  I worry about my students leaving for exotic locales.  I worry about them not doing the reading work I required.  I worry deeply about articles being lost in airports, poems being left alongside SkyMall magazines, or, worse, novels being dropped Read more

Presidents’ Day: Dancing Presidents

They do the cabbage patch, the hustle, the shuffle and the running man.  They shake their “booties,” point their fingers and click their heels.  No, these are not your students at homecoming.   Instead, they are great bastions of American history.  Monuments across the country exalt their greatness.  The History Channel profiles their lives, and when we celebrate Presidents’ Day we hold them up as the greatest examples of what has been good, just and fair in American politics and government.

And yet, each year, both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln seem to dance their way across our TV screens in Presidents’ Day Commercials.  Why dancing?  Why horrible, horrible dancing?

It would be a grievous mistake not to profile, in brief, Presidents’ Day via popular culture this weekend.  In light of this past week’s focus on presidential speeches, it only seems fair to discuss how presidential images and patriotism are employed in advertising.

Watch if you dare, the first of our dancing presidents below.  More importantly, employ, if you dare, in your classroom these lesson plans for the coming week.

Value City Presidents’ Day Sale-“Dancing Presidents”

At 15 seconds this commercial is incredibly short. Consider having students watch and answer the questions below.

  1. What effect does a “dancing” president have on the impact of the advertisement?
  2. Discuss the commercials’ length. Why so short?  When most commercial are 30 seconds to a minute what might be the strategy in airing a commercial that is significantly shorter.
  3. Culturally, why might we see this type of commercial?  What draws us to this type of advertising?
  4. Is “appropriating” the image of a president, or any famous historical figure, appropriate for a business or company?

Annotation: Week in Review


     Friday Dialogue from Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about annotating.

1.  When did you start marking texts?  What does your personal style of annotation require? 

Emily:  I think it started with Mrs. Nell in my senior English class when we were reading Macbeth.  She asked to look for repetition of words or images.  When I started to recognize the trends I was hooked on annotating and close reading like I’m hooked on Arby’s Beef and Cheddar sandwiches.  However, one of the biggest compliments I have ever received about my annotating abilities came on a flight a few years ago.  My students were reading Kite Runner and I was re-reading and marking up the text for the stylistic patterns.  The woman sitting next to me asked if I was an editor.  My response:  “No, I’m just a really anal retentive reader.”  Still one of the biggest compliments of my life…which maybe says more about my personal life than it does my annotating life!

Aubrey: It’s funny that you say senior year because it was for me too.  Mrs. Biehl had us read “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and I can remember color-coding the entire story at my part time job on a dinner break.  Especially the suggestive bits.  I highlighted those in green.  Back then I was “highlighter.”  Now I’m obsessed with post-it notes.  Nothing makes me happier than those post-it note flags.  I can write just enough on them and also have them on all three sides of the book.  They’re so neat and tidy something that comes into direct opposition with my messy annotation.  I went to a book club once with my copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (see day one again) and the response I got was “oooooh” but not an ooooh like people watching fireworks on the fourth of July.  More like oooooh, crazy town has arrived.

Emily:  Let’s be honest.  They thought crazy town had arrived before you pulled out your book!

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Annotation: Day Four

Using technology in the classroom is difficult.  Novelty can’t be the only reason to employ a new system.  Where does that leave you?  Online collaborative tech of course.

The basic goal with using tech for annotating is to find something that fills the following categories:

  • Creates a whiteboard space
  • Upload documents/images so they can be marked
  • Offers easy to use tools that are intuitive and need little explanation
  • Creates a URL for users so they don’t need to construct another account/login Read more

Annotation: Day Three

“But,“ they entreat, “I’m a visual learner. I can’t be expected to do well with text on a page.  It doesn’t ‘speak’ to me.”  “It was cool that you rearranged the room and I could sit with my friends and I kind of even understood the annotating thing, but now we’re back to the harsh reality of being seated in rows.”

Okay.  Fine.  [Also enough with the imagined student dialogue.  Blurgh.]

Most classrooms today are tasked with creating well-rounded, “global” citizens.  If there is anything about being a teenager that screams this is a natural progression, I have yet to find it.  To be honest, how many of us were global citizens at 17? Read more

Annotation: Day Two

So, after nothing works (not the long and “meaningful” chats, not the amazing personal examples — cue photo from yesterday — , not the concisely condensed handouts and personal “reference” guides), here is what we do.  It’s not new.  It’s not unique.  It not’s even unconventional.

Rearrange the room grouping the desks into threes.  This is probably the biggest struggle since the opportunity for personal injury arises in any room rearrangement.  Then wait.

They walk in.

They’re excited.

“No assigned seats,” they think.

“No terrible and horrible columns of death,” they silently cheer.

“We are going to have fun,” they chortle.  [Okay, too far. I know.] Read more

Annotation: Day One

After years of trying to teach annotating skills to students I’ve come to a fairly straightforward conclusion: they don’t get it.  While I revere marking up books, I suspect that there is a reason for this:  I’m an adult.  An adult who has spent most of my time dog-earing, post-it noting, highlighting, double underlining and all around obsessing over marking text.  I also suspect that images like the one below (my “annotated” copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) “freak” students out.  To be honest, the expectation that they will love marking up a text during adolescence is unrealistic.  More importantly, the idea that they will even know what to mark expects that they are capable of making choices and evaluating a professional’s choices.  Come on.

The "dark" side of annotation.

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