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How Annotating Changed My Reading and Writing

A young girl once sat in a classroom filled with the smell of hand-me-down books and fresh ocean water. Her teacher had a warm smile that I would like to call Ms. Honey because she was just like her. Ms. Honey expected a lot from her small group of students but not in an uptight brutal way, more of a friendly aunt-type way. Her room was filled with frogs and green decorations, they even had a classroom pet that took the form of a frog, but really, I liked to think he was a 1st-grade student just like the majority.

At seven years old, the young girl struggled a lot with reading and writing, which was hard because it was something she loved very much very young—having never passed a spelling test and stumbling reading out loud, skipping words, and making it her own improvised story. Ms. Honey filled her book bag with things she was interested in and helped her to understand what she was reading and not just auto-piloting through the books that filled her young student’s time.

Teaching her how to annotate and break up the things she was reading. That little girl used to be me. Without Ms. Honey, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to be where I am now. So for the people who did not have Ms. Honey in their lives, I’m going to ramble on for a few paragraphs about why you should be annotating what you read and how to not just read but understand your assignments on a different level.

What is annotating?

Annotating is also called “close reading” sometimes, and basically, to sum it up into a short paragraph, it is interacting or working on what you are reading, for example, highlighting things that stuck out to you—messaging yourself in the margins or taking notes while you read. Many students disregard this because they don’t have the option to write on the papers, or they feel they don’t need it to understand what they are reading.

The great thing about annotating is you might understand the text once you read it, but then it slips your mind as the day goes on. If you have annotations, it is easy to skim-read what you have already noted to yourself and understand it on a deeper level for things such as speeches or writing an essay on what you read. If you do not want to annotate on a textbook that you perhaps checked out in the library, what I suggest for you is transparent sticky notes. I will leave an Amazon link to them at the end of this article, but with them, you can write or highlight whole sections or copy a diagram without it physically being on the text. So, you can return that library book looking fresh and new, just like how you received it.


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