Posted in Teaching Techniques


Annotation is something tricky, and it’s something that everyone has to develop their own style for. We as teachers can provide different samples and guidelines of annotations for students to look at and use as they see fit, but students need to find a method that really works for them, or they won’t use it and the point of annotation will be defeated.

I think that annotation is an important skill, so students developing their own effective and understandable method is important. Annotation ties in closely with close reading, which I’ve written about here and here.) And I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be in any level English class and not know how to annotate. We are constantly asking students to talk about the text, relate to the text, cite the text, and for them to do that well they need to be able to refer back to the text and know what spoke to them. What made their hearts sing and what made them cringe? Annotation is important for this.

Because of all of this, here are some different annotation techniques. Feel free to share your techniques with me in the comments. I’m always looking for new and exciting tips and tricks to use in the classroom and share with my students!

  • Highlighting key words and phrases. Be careful not to overhighlight though. Your page will end up covered in highlighter, and you’ll have no idea what you actually wanted to remember.
  • Margin notes. This is one of my preferred annotation techniques. I like to write my thoughts and questions in the margins so I can remember them later and use them in discussions.
  • Symbols. A lot of people come up with a system of symbols to show what they liked, didn’t like, found interesting, etc.

These are just a few options of what you can do with annotating. Teach your students, but also allow them to teach you and show you what works for them.


Posted in Classroom Ideas, Food for Thought

On Creativity

I think that allowing creativity in the classroom can get tricky because in today’s world allowing creativity sometimes means allowing technology. I think sometimes it can be difficult to allow technology because it’s still something that’s relatively new and sometimes people don’t fully understand it or they assume the worst of allowing creativity in the classroom. Technology has a bigger presence in schools now than ever before and I think it’s important for teachers to embrace that so they can help students reach their full potential.

But back to creativity. I believe that young people are inherently creative people. I also believe that they need to be allowed to demonstrate their creativity in the best way for them. I’ve always loved writing and “crafty” projects – posters, scrapbooks, etc. I think that if I was a student in high school today I’d love the projects like create a Tumblr for a show character or creative a Facebook profile to use as a timeline.

Not everyone is creative in those ways though. Some students are more technologically creative and innovative than I could ever imagine being. Some channel their creativity into music. Or dance. Or acting. Or fashion. Students need to be given the opportunity to learn how they best express themselves. We as educators need to do our best to give them the opportunities to do so.

I want to allow creativity in my classroom as much and as often as possible. I want my students to discover what makes them tick, how they can best express themselves. I want to embrace technology because it’s a great tool to have in my toolbox.