Introducing Text Annotation Using the Gradual Release Process

November 14, 2014

Students can struggle with reading for a variety of reasons: rich vocabulary, lack of background knowledge, the author's writing style. To scaffold difficult texts, teach students to annotate through the gradual release process.
A guest blog post by Lisa Jarvis, Homegrown Teacher

Students can struggle with reading for a variety of reasons: rich vocabulary, lack of background knowledge, the author's writing style. And all of these are reasons why students may struggle with O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." Therefore, it is vital that the teacher scaffold this text.

I use a close reading activity with this short story to have students work on how to annotate a piece of text. It asks students to highlight unfamiliar vocabulary, key details about the setting, and examples of characterization. This is important as the students analyze how these elements impact the plot. Finally, this story is a great way to either introduce or review allusions to the students.

After teaching for six years, I have learned a lot about classroom management and the delivery of an effective lesson. One way in which I accomplish both of these tasks is through the gradual release process.

Students can struggle with reading for a variety of reasons: rich vocabulary, lack of background knowledge, the author's writing style. To scaffold difficult texts, teach students to annotate through the gradual release process.This process is essential in helping the students learn or understand any new concept. It follows the ME/WE/TWO/YOU pattern. This pattern can be completed within one piece of text or multiple texts.

In this example, I divide up the text and start with a think aloud. I read the text to the students and state my thoughts aloud to the students as to why I am highlighting certain elements and what/why I am writing in the margins. The key is to have students writing in the margins, not just highlighting. I continue the process as a class, with partners, and then the students finish the text by working independently.

The most rewarding part is that by the time the students get to the individual section of the activity, most feel confident enough annotate the text by themselves and do a decent job at it. I know that in a time crunched society time is of the essence, but believe me, it is time well spent! Your students will appreciate it!

For more close reading ideas and resources:

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2 comments

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  2. Thanks for the tips. I was just considering how to best teach this to my daughter.

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