Teaching students to annotate text is fundamental in an ELA classroom. As teachers, we equip our students with cognitive skills to break down difficult pieces of literature into understandable parts. When we teach students to annotate, it is usually in the realm of independent reading work, with annotations taken on post-it notes, in the margin of the text, on graphic organizers, or through highlighting using neon markers. As we move en masse into remote learning environments, however, teachers have new, exciting opportunities to develop annotation skills in new, exciting ways.
Without fail, my middle school students will ask me why they need to be writing when I was, in fact, teaching them reading. And without fail, I would tell my middle schoolers, “you will be able to write well the more you read, and you will read well the more you write.” While this may have sounded like typical teacher-speak to them, to me this answer underscored a fundamental truth of literacy in middle and high school – writing is essential to teaching reading. And for me, writing prompts are an essential tool to make writing happen.
It is time to reevaluate our current reading lists, unit novels, and our bookshelves as we embark on this new school year. Teachers have a responsibility to purposefully find and display inclusive texts right into the top of class reading lists, posts on educational-based social media feeds, and sought after independent reading displays.