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Annotating Literature

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1 Annotating Literature
A Guide to Active Reading Most people want to know why is reading in school so different than reading at home, and why is it so much more difficult… Why do we need to know this?? When am I ever going to use this in real life? Annotating does not only build up your ability to speak figuratively about literature but allows you insights into human nature and can actually teach you a lot about yourself. It also builds critical thinking skills and sharpens the mind (it’s like a big puzzle!!) No, your boss will never come to you and say “…” Working in just about any field requires you to be able to identify people’s character traits, your surroundings, etc… YOU DO THIS EVERY DAY!!!

2 Definition of Annotation
A critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text. (n) There is not a wrong way to annotate. There is not a right way to annotate. There are more effective and less effective ways to write critical or explanatory notes in a text.

3 When do I annotate? When the text is difficult
When you are reading for something specific When you will use the information for another purpose When you’d like to comprehend the text more effectively When you have a difficult time staying focused and engaged in the reading

4 Why do I annotate? It improves comprehension It improves retention
Students must process information in order to put information into their own words. It improves retention Annotation requires students to think about information. The notes created serve as a reminder of that information and the reader’s reactions. It improves efficiency Annotation keeps students’ attention toward the task and provides a structure for studying or reading independently.

5 What do you think the title has to do with the text?
BEFORE YOU READ… To help you make appropriate annotations….PREVIEW THE TEXT What do you think the title has to do with the text? Who is the author? What time period was the piece written in? How is the text structured? Are you given any visuals? Is the text non-fiction or fiction

Why are you reading and how will you use the text? Do you need a basic understanding? Are you looking just for the main ideas? Do you need detailed comprehension of the book? Will you need a complete analysis? Authors did not sit down and write with the mindset that some literary PHDs would criticize and analyze it years later. They wrote it to both inform and entertain their readers. They usually were commenting on some thing, event, issue, etc…Writing was their way of expressing themselves and/or proving a point or discussing a critical issue to the time period.

To identify the author’s most important points. To recognize how they fit together. To note how you respond to them. We all get something different out of what we read, so it would be 100% unfair of me to require your annotations to mirror mine.

8 WHEN YOU ANNOTATE… Underline and highlight passages.
Make written notes in the margins of texts to identify the most important ideas, the main examples or details, and the things that trigger your own reactions – Make note of your reactions. Devise a notation system. Use post-it notes to help organize thoughts if using a school novel. Reference on the post-it note what you’re referencing to (plot, character, symbols, connection to era…) You’re not going to know everything yet. You annotate as you go. It would be very easy to read an entire story and then go back, but you’re exploring the text. You and the text should be like BFF, and this is where you’re getting to know one another. *But Ms. K, -I don’t know WHEN to annotate… LOOK FOR WHEN YOUR IDEAS, PERCEPTIONS, OR UNDERSTANDING CHANGES! VISUALIZE THE STORY!!! -Your first instincts are usually right on. If something tells you, “man, they sure have been talking about this one color a lot.” THEN HEY…MAYBE THE COLOR IS A SYMBOL! Examine front and back covers Read the title and any subtitles Examine any illustrations Examine the print Examine the way the text is set up As you do all this, make predictions… Write questions and/or comments in the margin. Mark confusing parts of the piece or sections that warrant a reread Read a few paragraphs at a time.

9 Let’s Review! What is annotation? When do I annotate?
Why do I annotate? What might I annotate for? Depends on your purpose!  How do I annotate? Let’s practice!

10 Annotating a Non-Fiction article (biography about Salinger)
Consider overall structure. How does the writer present the argument and prove it? Think about the writer’s argument and tone and how these are achieved. Analyze the diction and syntax used to express point of view. Look at sentence structure. Consider the writer’s purpose: to explain, to persuade, to describe, to entertain, to editorialize, etc and how he or she achieves this. Define any unknown terms. Be aware of and record your personal reactions and questions.


12 Character Information
Introduction and analysis of character (what is this person like?) Changes in attitudes or beliefs of character throughout novel Actions of the character that help explain who he is Events that have shaped the character and his personality Anything else that strikes your attention Reactions you have to what is being said and done in the novel (judgment of character and his actions/thoughts)

13 Literary Devices Symbols (colors, settings)
Irony (situational, verbal, dramatic) Conflict and resolution Theme—life lesson learned Anything else that stands out as important

14 At the end of each chapter…
Summarize what you have read for yourself 2-3 sentences stating the main points of the chapter What do you think you should remember?

15 KEEP IN MIND… The more precise your marks are and the more focused your notes and reactions, the easier it will be to draw material from the text into your own writing.

16 SO, BE SELECTIVE… The unfortunate tendency is to underline (or highlight) too much of a text. DON’T DO THIS! A good reader will mark sparingly, keeping the focus on the truly important elements of a writer’s ideas and his or her own reactions. If you are using another system, notes or post-its, you may/may not have a post-it for every page

17 MOST IMPORTANTLY… Don’t let this scare you!
Everything you say is useful!

18 Let’s try it out….

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