By teaching kids annotation skills we can greatly improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. It’s important to first explain what annotation means so that learners understand why they will be working through this process. We’ve sourced 17 awesome annotation activities to get you started. Let’s take a look.
1. Poetry Annotation
To successfully annotate poetry, students must analyze and interpret the different elements of a poem in order to gain a deeper understanding of its literary devices and meaning. This activity teaches students to focus on the importance of looking into depth and complexity by focusing on the elements of speaker, pattern, shift, and description.
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2. Annotate Texts
This handy guide breaks down the key elements of learning to annotate texts. Start by using the cards that have two stories in the same genre. Dissect these using the prompts. Next, give students two stories that are from different genres and have them discuss the differences.
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3. Annotation Symbols
Annotation symbols can be used to provide additional information or clarification about a particular text. Have your students pick up to 5 of these symbols to annotate another student’s work. Having them read others’ work is great practice and symbols make great annotation tools!
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4. Annotate Books
Before you can annotate a book, it’s important to read it actively. Meaning, engaging with the text, taking notes, and highlighting key points. This is key when teaching students about annotation. Start by asking your students to annotate a page from your class text. They can start by underlining keywords individually and then add more detail during class discussion.
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5. Rainbow Annotation
By teaching students to use different colored sticky notes they can easily scan an annotated text for specific information. Here, they have used red for angry emotions, yellow for funny, clever, or happy sections, and green for surprising moments. These can easily be adapted for any text. Work together as a class to make your own colored key to ensure a variety of annotations are used!
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6. Annotation Bookmarks
Encourage a variety of annotations by handing out these cool annotation bookmarks. Easily kept inside student books, there will no longer be an excuse for forgetting how to annotate! Students can add some color to these bookmarks and match the colors when annotating a text.
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7. S-N-O-T-S: Small Notes on the Side
Reminding students not to forget their SNOTS is sure to help them remember to make Small Notes On The Side! Using a green, kids are taught to underline key points. They can then go back over the text to circle important words, add diagrams, and make notes of what they would like to include in their response.
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8. Projector and Whiteboard
By setting your camera above a text and displaying this on your whiteboard, you can show your students how to annotate in real-time. Go through the common steps involved in basic annotation and let them have a go at annotating their own text using the methods you have shown.
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9. Label the Turtle
Younger kids will need to be exposed to the labeling process before learning to annotate. This cute sea turtle activity teaches kids the importance of using the correct labels in their written work. The turtle can also be colored in once the written work is complete!
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10. Annotate the Flower
Working with real-world materials is a surefire way to get kids engaged with their work! Using a flower, have learners label the different parts. Additionally, they can complete a drawing of their activity and add labels and extra annotations to each part.
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11. Practice Notetaking
Notetaking is a skill that almost everyone will require in their lifetime. Learning to take good notes is key when learning to annotate texts. Have your students gather on the carpet with their whiteboards. Read a few pages from a non-fiction book and pause for them to write down important things that they’ve learned.
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12. Mind Map to Annotate
Here, the key points are choosing a central idea by drawing or writing a keyword in the center of a piece of paper. Then, branches are added for key themes and keywords. Phrases are the sub-branches and gaps and connections should be filled with more ideas or annotations. This simple process helps students plan their annotations.
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13. Create a Color Key
Encourage students to make the correct labels by using a colored key. The descriptions will vary depending on the type of text you are annotating. Here, they have used blue for general plot information and yellow for questions and definitions.
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14. Annotation Marks
These level annotation marks can be placed in the margin of students’ work when annotating to show key points. A question mark symbolizes something the student does not understand, an exclamation mark indicates something surprising, and ‘ex’ is written when the author provides an example.
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15. Annotate a Transcript
Provide each student with a transcript of a Ted Talk. As they listen, they must annotate the talk with notes or symbols. These will be used to help them write up a review of the talk.
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16. Annotation Station
This activity requires careful observation and attention to detail. It works best as a small group or individual assignment. It works well as an online method by using breakout rooms in Google Meet or Zoom. Provide your students with an image to annotate. Students can then add details and make observations about the image. If you have touchscreen devices, students can use the pen tool to draw on top of the picture. For non-touch devices, use the sticky note tool to add observations.
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17. Annotate a Timeline
This can be adapted to your class book or topic. Discuss an appropriate timeline and set groups of students to provide collaborative annotations for that part of the story or area of history. Each student must provide a key piece of information and a fact to add to the annotated timeline.
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