One of the greatest challenges students face is adjusting to college reading expectations. Unlike high school, students in college are expected to read more “academic” type of materials in less time and usually recall the information as soon as the next class.
The problem is many students spend hours reading and have no idea what they just read. Their eyes are moving across the page, but their mind is somewhere else. The end result is wasted time, energy, and frustration…and having to read the text again.
Although students are taught how to read at an early age, many are not taught how to actively engage with written text or other media. Annotation is a tool to help you learn how to actively engage with a text or other media.
View the following video about how to annotate a text.
Annotating a text or other media (e.g. a video, image, etc.) is as much about you as it is the text you are annotating. What are YOUR responses to the author’s writing, claims and ideas? What are YOU thinking as you consider the work? Ask questions, challenge, think!
When we annotate an author’s work, our minds should encounter the mind of the author, openly and freely. If you met the author at a party, what would you like to tell to them; what would you like to ask them? What do you think they would say in response to your comments? You can be critical of the text, but you do not have to be. If you are annotating properly, you often begin to get ideas that have little or even nothing to do with the topic you are annotating. That’s fine: it’s all about generating insights and ideas of your own. Any good insight is worth keeping because it may make for a good essay or research paper later on.
The Secret is in the Pen
One of the ways proficient readers read is with a pen in hand. They know their purpose is to keep their attention on the material by:
- Predicting what the material will be about
- Questioning the material to further understanding
- Determining what’s important
- Identifying key vocabulary
- Summarizing the material in their own words, and
- Monitoring their comprehension (understanding) during and after engaging with the material
The same applies for mindfully viewing a film, video, image or other media.
Annotating a Text
Review the video, “How to Annotate a Text.” Pay attention to both how to make annotations and what types of thoughts and ideas may be part of your annotations as you actively read a written text.