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Annotation Directions

ANNOTATING A TEXT
To make sense of complicated readings, you must be an active and engaged reader. This is
a complex process, but one that will help you make better sense of the material you are
reading the first time through. To facilitate this process, it is best to use annotation. All of
this hard work should help let the text reveal its message to you as you are using the details
and ideas in the text to discover meaning.
When you annotate, you are seeking to summarize and analyze the material.
 Ask and answer questions about the material
 Identify important ideas, terms or concepts – look them up if you don’t know their
meaning
 Summarize what you have read at the top of the page or at the end or beginning of
the chapter
 Note the feelings the text draws out of you
 Make connections between the material from the text and your life, other parts of
the text, or other things you have read and studied
 Make predictions what will happen later based on the evidence so far
 Identify patterns and shifts in patterns
 Identify literary devices being used
Symbolism
Word choice
Imagery
Figurative language
Tone
Theme
ANNOTATING: Two-Column Notes
These kinds of notes can be used in the margins of a text or on separate sheets of paper.
They are designed to help you better remember and understand what you read.
LEFT-HAND

RIGHT-HAND COLUMN

COLUMN
Plot focused – In the
left-hand column you
should do the following:
·
summarize the
main idea of paragraphs or
passages (2-3 words)
·
list important
terms (vocabulary words,
concepts, characters,
settings, symbols, etc . . .)

Meaning focused – In the right-hand column you should
do the following:
·
note any feelings or experiences you have while
reading the text such as: confusion, humor, happiness,
nostalgia, anger, sadness, annoyance, worry, etc . . .
·
note any connections you make between the text
and . . . your own life, the world around us (current events,
life in general, etc . . .), historical events, religious studies,
other things you have read or watched, other courses you
may have taken.

·
write questions
about events you do not
understand or words you do
not know
This is an effort to
SUMMARIZE – These notes
help improve your memory
and understanding of the
story’s events.

·
note literary techniques you see being used and what
may be suggested by them, such as:
1. word choice and imagery – Are the words and images
used typical of a certain subject or idea (religious ideas,
natural world, mechanical or technical speech, politics, etc .
. .)? OR Do the words and images conjure up certain
feelings or ideas (good versus evil, innocence versus
experience, light versus dark, happiness versus sadness,
youth versus age, past versus future, etc . . .)?
2. characterization – What kind of person would say/do
such a thing (optimistic, passive, stubborn, arrogant, rude,
naïve, reverent, etc . . .)
3.
setting – Is the setting a place that carries certain
meanings or understandings or feelings?
desert = emptiness, contemplation
mountain = obstacle, goal to earn
ocean = change, vastness
field = growth, productivity,
river = changes, cycle
forest = new, strange
city = modern, isolation
countryside =traditional, connection
4.
symbolism – Do the objects, colors, numbers suggest
something bigger?
This is an effort to ANALYZE – These notes help improve
your ability to understand the message the author or
passage presents.

Annotation Rubric
Excellent

Strong

Proficient

Developing

Annotations
-- are consistent
and thorough
throughout the
reading ,
-- demonstrate
outstanding
insight,
-- include
detailed notes on
Plot events
Character
actions, dialogue
Narration
Literary devices
(SWIFFT)
Themes
Motifs

Annotations
-- are mostly
consistent and
thorough, though
there may be
noticeable gaps
-- demonstrate
insight, but may
lack engagement
with the text
-- include notes on
all of the analytical
areas.

Annotations
-- address key ideas
though the more subtle
and inferential moments
are lacking in notation
-- insight is
underdeveloped or
obvious
-- some of the analytical
areas are given limited
development.

Annotations
-- are underdeveloped,
with wide gaps, limited
responses, or missing
commentary
-- may tend to be
superficial, plot-based,
or raise more questions
than offer analysis
-- of the categories are
lacking, with many left
out.

Annotation Example
Sample Text:
from Alice Walker’s “The Flowers”
It seemed to Myop as she skipped lightly from hen house to pigpen to
smokehouse that the days had never been as beautiful as these. The air held a
keenness that made her nose twitch. The harvesting of the corn and cotton,
peanuts and squash, made each day a golden surprise that caused excited little
tremors to run up her jaws.
Myop carried a short, knobby stick. She struck out at random at chickens
she liked, and worked out the beat of a song on the fence around the pigpen.
She felt light and good in the warm sun. She was ten, and nothing existed for
her but her song, the stick clutched in her dark brown hand, and the tat-de-tata-ta of accompaniment

Excellent/Strong

Proficient/Developing

Myop? Why that name? Is she American?
Is this related to myopia? Is she narrow
sighted?
happy tone: “skipped lightly,” “days . . .as
beautiful as these,” “keenness,” “golden
surprise”
setting: farm? “hen house to pigpen to
smokehouse,” “harvesting of the corn and
cotton” - the South? When?
Character: why strike “at chickens she liked?”
Why “at random” - not caring, not
intentionally mean?
Myop = ten, carefree (“nothing existed for her
but her song”, not working right now), African
American (“dark brown hand”)
onomatopoeia - “tat-de-ta-ta-ta of
accompaniment”

Myop? Weird name.
Meaning?

Plot: happy little girl skipping around her farm
enjoying the late summer weather

tone: happy “each day a
golden surprise”
setting: farm?
character: Myop, ten y.o.,
upbeat, mean to chickens?,
carefree