I am not a big fan of annotations, mostly because I hated them when I was in high school and I feel that students are often distracted by them because they stop comprehending and instead focus on what they should mark to get a good annotation grade. That being said….I do think that note-taking is important while reading, as both a during reading and post-reading strategy. That’s why I like this Marginal Notes strategy.
For this strategy, as students read, they can mark notes on the side of their book, on a post-it note, or even in a separate journal. Instead of trying to comment on symbols or abstract ideas, the students can just write their opinions, observations, and thoughts.
I think that this is important because it gets students to actively comment and reflect on what they’re reading. Instead of worrying about what they should be annotating, they are just writing honest responses to the text. This strategy also allows students to make more personal connections. Instead of striving for the deeper meaning of the text, they can see it on a basic level and connect it to their lives. Then, once they are done reading, they can reflect on their responses and either change them, or add to them—this is the post-reading aspect.
Even if students aren’t commenting on essential themes/motifs/symbols of the text, they are making connections, which is half the battle of reading. The teacher can guide their learning of these more complex ideas; however, the teacher cannot teach about personal connections—that is up to the students, and hopefully this strategy will encourage them and give them the freedom to make these connections.