Literacy 7-12

Systems Change


When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading. By focusing their Attention on reading with a purpose, students identify and analyze the components of a text. Students can annotate to highlight the structure, arguments, or evidence; make connections and inferences; and question the text, which helps build their Critical Literacy.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this tenth grade teacher asks her students to annotate during a close reading. By connecting the reading with an essential question and giving annotation reminders, students can read with a specific purpose and tackle a complex text.

  • Teachers should model how to examine a text closely and make effective annotations. Analyzing models of annotated texts from other students or experts can also be helpful in showing how good readers make sense of their reading. Teachers can provide some suggestions for how to create annotations and symbols to use, such as connecting ideas with arrows, adding question marks when confused, or underlining important Vocabulary, but should also allow students to choose what works best for them. Annotations can be especially important for developing Disciplinary Literacy skills, as students learn to read with differing purposes in the content areas.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how allows students to annotate any text on the web. With this browser extension, students can actively respond to online texts and their peers, increasing their digital citizenship and information literacy.

  • From encouraging students to react, question, argue, or evaluate a source, products can push the envelope for the kinds of annotations they offer and the purposes they serve. Developers can create digital annotation tools that allow students to collaboratively engage with texts. By leveraging affordances like multimedia and social reading online, students can respond to not only the text but also to their peers, creating a more meaningful discussion.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy