Online Annotations: Less paper, More Participation

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In my last blog, I gave you some ideas for Google Chrome extensions that may make tracking text and staying focused easier for your students. Click here to read that blog. Now, let’s look at some ways that your students can interact with text to improve their comprehension. These extensions will make close reading activities with annotating easier to do on a digital text.

online annotations

Annotations with Page Marker

First, we have Page Marker by Zamr. Page Marker does exactly as it says. It lets the kids draw and mark directly on a website. It does not have a text option, but would be perfect for lessons where the kids were expected to circle, underline, or other annotations that demonstrates knowledge of a particular skill.

annotations online

These activities could be used for:

  • Context clues-circle, underline, or mark the synonym/antonym clue in the sentence that helps you figure out the meaning of (the unknown word).
  • Text structure-circle, underline, or mark the signal words in the text that are clues to determining the text structure of what they read.
  • Cause/effect-Underline the cause in red, and underline the effect in blue.
  • Compare contrast-circle, underline, or mark the details about (topic A) in orange and (topic B) in purple
  • Sequence-draw numbers on the sentences of the text to tell the order in which something occurred.
  • Coding Text with marks such as question marks for places you are unsure of the meaning or exclamation points for surprising parts. (for more information and other great reading intervention activities, check out the book 40 Reading Intervention Strategies for K-6 Students: Research-Based Support for RTI a lesson planning resource to increase literacy levels by Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins.

Page Marker does not allow you to scroll down on the page, so I would only use it for a small amount of text. Just a paragraph or two should be enough to practice some of these skills.

Annotations with KB Sticky Notes

KB Sticky Notes by Karl Balemiis for times when you want your students to write out information as they read. This extension saves your sticky notes, so they come up the next time you open that page. To add a sticky, all you have to do is right click (alt+tap for a Chromebook) and choose to make a sticky in that location. You can move them around, and change the color. They will not hold position when you scroll, but they will still be there the next time you open that website. That makes it great for doing research because if they need to stop working, they can go back to the same site at a later time.

As far as reading instruction, sticky notes are useful for all kinds of lessons. For example:

  • Predicting-The kids stop at a certain point in a text and make predictions on their sticky note.
  • Marking parts of the texts with close reading tags like question marks, or marking a particular portion of text with the strategy they used at that point. Ideal for metacognition!

Using the Programs in Your Room

To get the text to your students, collect your paragraphs and save them as PDF files. You could write the articles yourself, scan a copy of a resource you already own, or purchase pre-made items online.

Save time!

I have a packet of nonfiction paragraphs designed to be used online for close reading annotation lessons about the five nonfiction text structures. This is for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

annotation lesson

How to:

  • If you have Google Classroom, just make a new assignment and attach the text. Make sure you make a copy for each student, or you’ll have 24 kids all writing on one document at the same time. It’s happened to me. Not fun.
  • If you do not have Classroom, you can send it as an email attachment. Each student will have their own.
  • If your students do not have email, start a class webpage that has a link to the document and have them all download it.
  • Before they start, make sure they can see all the text they need to annotate. Remember, in Page Marker they cannot scroll down.
  • Any sticky notes or marks made with these two extensions will print! So if for any reason you want them to print their work, the marks will still be there. In Page Marker, you will have to use the ctrl+P command.

Do you want to be able to save paper and practice online annotations? Your students will appreciate the variety and you’ll appreciate the simplicity of online work.  Get my lesson materials, or make some of your own to try with your class!

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