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.

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