18 Annotating

Annotating is any action that a reader takes to deliberately interact with learning materials to enhance their reaction to and therefore recall of the content. Annotation activities are most closely associated with written texts. Traditionally, they involve highlighting or underlining key parts of a text and making notes in the margins. Recently, annotation activities have evolved to encompass other media, including videos, images, and digital communication forms such as hyperlinks and embedded media.

Annotation activities transform materials-focused learning into active or collaborative learning activities that can be documented and assessed. They also support students with weak reading comprehension skills by modeling active engagement with learning or research materials. Finally, the annotated documents can be helpful to students for future reference or exam preparation. This information sheet provides several examples of annotation learning activities that are appropriate across disciplines and student levels.

Annotated bibliographies

Students describe resources in two or three sentences. Depending on context and desired outcomes, annotated bibliography activities can be structured using summative, evaluative, or reflective approaches. Select the links below to learn more and see annotated bibliography activities in practice.

Collaborative annotation

Students use digital annotation platforms to annotate and respond to the annotations of their classmates. These activities are similar to discussion- based activities with discussion prompts. Collaborative annotation is useful when texts are difficult to read, since students can help one another with interpretation. Select the links below to learn more and see collaborative annotation activities in practice.

Self-assessment annotation

Rather than writing separate reflective essays, students critique their learning products with evaluative annotations. Select the links below to learn more and see self-assessment annotation activities in practice.

Additional resources


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