In our modern world of education, we often hear words and phrases like “annotate” and “close reading” that are unfamiliar to us. What does it mean to annotate? What does it mean to master close reading? When students are reading challenging texts, haven’t they always just scribbled random notes in their notebooks about words, phrases, and sentences that they hope to understand later?
Educators and parents have learned over time that using the above strategy for tackling difficult texts is not enough to strengthen students’ reading comprehension. This is evidenced in the student’s past and present experiences with just surviving their way through difficult texts, wading through and temporarily memorizing confusing material in the hopes of earning passing grades. Consequently, students can become discouraged and disinterested in reading altogether.
But learning to annotate important selections as a part of close reading difficult texts can instill encouragement and confidence—two precursors to reading success-- in reluctant readers.
Here are 5 ways for your child to annotate important selections of texts with close reading.
- Prepare a comfortable, well-lit workspace with all needed materials: a ruler, reading glasses, text, pens/pencils, spiral binder, bookmarks, tablet, or computer (with a safe search feature) for quick research.
- Set up your spiral binder for note-taking according to the example below. Write out the text title on the left side. Use a ruler to make 5 columns per page. Note headings above the columns. Make as many close reading annotation pages as are needed for the assigned reading.
- Warm up to the text by reading or reviewing the cover, back, and table of contents’ organization.
- Warm up to the chapter by turning to the section assigned, noting the number of pages assigned; photos, diagrams, and other illustrations; and the organization of the content.
- Focus on the assigned reading by remembering that the chapter title provides the spotlight and topic sentences provide the flashlights on the chapter’s organized messages as you go. If you are attending to the material consistently, you should continuously appreciate and understand the organization provided.
- Read the first paragraph (using a horizontal bookmark line-by-line, if necessary) by observing that the material discussed below the topic sentence (flashlight) supports it.
- Look up any vocabulary words you don’t know by using an electronic device and note your vocabulary word information as an entry on your close reading annotation page (example below).
- Look up any other words or phrases you don’t understand, following the same process as above by recording your information on your close reading annotation page.
- Re-read the paragraph with your acquired knowledge to be sure that you understand it now.
- Continue this process with each paragraph you don’t understand through the end of your assigned reading.
- When you are finished with the assigned reading, review your close reading annotation page, highlighting any areas you will need to study more in-depth for a test.
- Study your close reading annotation pages regularly before a test on the chapter, section, or book.
Note: This process may be time-consuming at first, but as you build your close reading and annotation skills you will become more efficient and increasingly well-educated over time!
As a parent, you are well aware of the critical importance of a quality English Language Arts education for your child. 98thPercentile is here to help your child succeed! We deliver quality instruction for all six facets of English Language Arts education, including close reading skills, through our accelerated learning content-mastery program if you are interested in partnering with us for your child’s English Language Arts educational needs.