Help Her Annotate Her English Book – Part 2

photo-1443188631128-a1b6b1c5c207It’s a good bet that annotating, or writing notes about an assigned English text, is something your teen avoids like the plague. But it’s one of the ways she can make her life easier.

If she writes down her (and her teacher’s) observations as she’s reading the book it is a heck of a lot easier to use the text later to write an essay. Flipping aimlessly through a 250 page novel the night before an in-class essay test, trying to find important stuff, is a whole lot harder. You can help her avoid this.

In addition to the list from Part 1 of this post, her annotations can:

Translate what’s being said. Sometimes the text is HARD to understand and needs some close, careful reading. This can help for authors like Shakespeare and Chaucer but could also apply to complex modern texts like The Great Gatsby or Fahrenheit 451 .

Ask questions. She can stick a question mark next to something confusing or write out a question related to the event or quote. Going into class with specific questions scores some nice points in class participation and helps her get confusing stuff clarified.

Make predictions and connections. This means noting something she thinks is going to happen, based on text proof. Or it could mean connecting an event or character to another in the book, to a different text, or to a recent class discussion.

Define vocab. She can create a list of new vocab words inside the book cover or define the words she doesn’t know right on the page (key with folks like Hawthorne or Shakespeare).

She could list the key plot points at the end of each chapter to remind herself about what happened.

Ideally, as she reads the book she should annotate things as she sees them – underlining or highlighting them and the noting in the margin why it’s important. And if annotating as she reads is annoying, she can always read through a chapter first and then go back and annotate.

Note: As often as you can, buy her the same edition of the book they’re reading in class. That way she can scribble directly in it (easier than using stickies or notebook notes), using an edition of the book that has the same page numbers as the school edition.

Check out Part 1 of this blog post.


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