How to teach students to annotate their reading

One of the reasons I like close reading so much is that it forces encourages students to record their thinking.  When students annotate their reading it gives them a purpose for reading, and it also allows teachers to get an inside look at student thinking.
I started off teaching students to annotate with lots of modeling.  I would model highlighting and annotating by copying pages in our current read aloud (this way students were familiar with the text).  As I read the passages, I would stop, highlight, and annotate my thinking to show students how simple but effective it was.

Each time I modeled I tried to stress the importance on not becoming a "happy highlighter".  Happy highlighters are people who highlight everything they read as important.  I reminded them that highlighting the key parts of a text allows it to stand out.  It also teaching them to be more specific with their thinking.  My happy highlighters were quickly discouraged when they realized that each highlight required an annotation.  
Another way that I eliminated over highlighting was to make close reading cards.  These cards are like task cards for close reading.  Each card has a different purpose.  I would chose a card, and we would decide if it pertained to our text.  If it did, we would think about this task as we reread the text.

 Once I felt students understood the process, I turned them loose during guided reading.  To remind students of best practices, I made close reading toolkits.  Each tool contains five highlighters (yellow, orange, pink, blue, and green), a highlighter color code key, and close reading cards.  Here is an example of a toolkit.

Students know to use different colors of highlighters to show different types of thinking.

Thinking about reading and annotating our thinking has become second nature in my classroom.  I can see a huge difference in group discussions about a text and on their standardized reading test scores!  
If you would like your students to make annotating thinking a part of their daily routine, you can take a closer look at my Close Reading in a Jar or my Close Reading on a Ring in  Teachers Pay Teachers store.

How do you review the eight parts of speech?

This school year I've really been enforcing parts of speech in my 3rd/4th grade high ability classroom.   At this point in the school year students have learned all eight parts of speech, and we are now in the review mode.  We review parts of speech two different ways.  Every Friday I give my students a sentence quiz where they must label the part of speech under each word.  On most other days, students have fun ways that they can review parts of speech during stations or as an early finishers activity.  I made an Eight Parts of Speech Jar for daily review.
There are several different ways that students can do this activity. 
Individually or with a partner:
Students choose a card from the jar and place it in the correct part of speech column.  They must agree with each other before the card can be placed.

Small group or partners:
Students sit in a circle.  One student chooses a card from the jar, reads the word, and names the part of speech.  The other students agree or disagree.  If the student is correct, he/she keeps the card.  If he/she is incorrect, the card goes back in the jar and the jar is passed to the next student in the circle.  To make this activity more challenging, I have students give proof that their answer is correct or use their word in a sentence.

This activity can be differentiated by allowing students to use an iPad to check their answers.

I knew that all of our hard work was paying off the other day when we were trying to figure out the definition of an unknown word in guided reading.  One student said that the word had to be a noun because it followed a preposition and every prepositional phrase ends with a noun!

If you would like to take a closer look at my Eight Parts of Speech Jar, you can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.