Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top 5 things I learned...#2...Harvard is right

#2 "Read with a pen in your hand and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that might be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready on some future occasion to adorn and improve your conversation." -Benjamin Franklin

Harvard has posted on their website a page titled, "Six Reading Habits to Develop in Your First Year at Harvard."  What is their number 2?  My classroom calls it "jotting".  Harvard calls it "annotating." Benjamin Franklin calls it "short hints".  No matter what the name is...active engagement and interaction with a text will support students in comprehension, engagement, and prepare them for future conversations.  I remember how awkward some students felt at the beginning of the year...they were not use to actually "jotting" their thoughts, wonders, confusions, or "ah-ahs" on paper.  There was the feeling of "jotting" a right response.  After much, much, much modeling, students learned that jotting is more than post-its.  It is determining what you want to hold onto after previewing a book to support your understanding.  It is determining the point in which the student entered into engagement with the text.  It is noting points of confusion, new words, or monitoring comprehension.  

The key to "annotating" was letting the students see all of the tools they could use beyond a highlighter.  In fact, if you read the article, Harvard discourages highlighters.  Read the article to find out why! :)  From post-its, to charts, to diagrams, to line graph's for character feelings...the key is "choice" in the tool.  What do I need to hold onto to understand what I am reading?  What do I think?  And to realize that this thinking matters.  Students will find purpose in jotting if they use it for further conversations and it is connected back to the text.  I often hear..."wait, I jotted about that...let me find it".  Now a student has left a trail of thinking to support their conversation and the conversations are more focused on the text with confidence.

I knew annotating was important.  It is more than note taking.  It occurs with a purpose.  It occurs on a text.  It occurs simultaneously with other reading strategies.  The most important part...it records what the reading experience was like for you.  
"With jotting, it helped me put thoughts into my head and remember the story.  It helped me to think deeply."

"At the beginning of the year I disliked jotting, I felt like it slowed me down.  Now I can't live without jotting."
"I had the choice of when to pause, jot, and when to not."
 Here are some other posts on "jotting":

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