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Close Reading and Text Annotation Ideas

Teaching ideas for helping students understand effective close reading and text annotations from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Close Reading and Text Annotations are great strategies to help students dig deeper into texts.

Teachers shared their best advice on these topics:

  • What close reading means to them
  • How to select texts for close reading
  • What types of assignments are good to practise close reading
  • Paper and digital annotation suggestions

Read the curated Twitter chat below to learn more about close reading and text annotations.

Q1: What does “close reading” mean in your classroom? 

  • Close reading means reading & rereading text to analyze literal & figurative meaning. Students do this to form deeper connections
  • Close reading in my classroom means to read the text with a specific focus, questions after reading go beyond explicit info 
  • Close reading means looking beyond the gist of what is read, finding deeper meanings, and multiple reads
  • Close reading to me has always been repeated reading and talking with fellow readers.
  • It means reading a text more than once. Each time with a specific purpose
  • Close Reading means my students analyze the text, by focusing on key details in order to gain a deeper understanding 
  • Close reading is slowing down reading to carefully notice details. Love this introductory activity: 
  • Dissecting a text and analyzing author’s craft 
  • Several draft readings with a different purpose each time with chunking in one of the readings
  • Close reading includes making and forming connections with a text, hopefully connecting it with events in the students lives 
  • Agreed! Questions go beyond literal comprehension 
  • Close reading=inquiry into how a text achieves its effects & what is revealed about writer’s purposes
  • Close reading is reading with purpose. I.e. Observing text features, specific elements, deeper meaning. Beyond the literal
  • In the big picture- reading/marking text with a defined purpose. Changes depending on what we are studying
  • Close reading: several readings of the text. Each reading is for a different purpose. Analyzing text to determine author’s purpose 
  • My students are currently doing a Close Reading of @Newsela nonfiction articles about the upcoming election! 


Q2: What types of texts do you ask students to do a close reading of? For what purpose?

  • Being a 1:1 classroom. We also annotate text digitally!
  • We close read ALL text: fiction, nonfiction, poetry. We do this to look at author’s intentions and reader’s experience
  • To me, close reading means the students are very involved in the reading and think critically about the reading
  • I think it’s funny that close reading seems like a new goal. Hasn’t reading closely always been a goal in ELA?
  • Shorter, complex texts so poems or excerpts from a larger work are perfect
  • I try to keep texts short for close reading. Poems, stories, speeches and excerpts of longer texts 
  • We regularly close read our class novels and our Article of the Week readings
  • Important to remember everything isn’t meant to be closely read. We close read shorter texts, excerpts, and most nonfiction
  • My only close reading teaching experience was with Shakespeare. Unfamiliar language lends itself to a careful, second look!
  • I have my students read all sorts of text: informational, fiction, poetry, speeches
  • We focus more on close reading class novels and shorter works to help build their endurance
  • Persuasive text – identify & evaluate arguments. Poetry – meaning through specific word choice
  • I’ve found that shorter texts/excerpts work best for my students. Sometimes I’ll pull a paragraph or two from a larger text
  • Article of the Week is a great strategy for jumping into close reading
  • ALL types of text! This week we’ve read folktale for theme/point of view, a speech for big ideas about life goals 

Q3: How do you teach text annotation to your students? 

  • I teach annotating the text, by having students use the app Xodo. They are able to make annotations on the digital prompt 
  • That’s awesome! I love how you share specifically what you’re doing! Never heard of Xodo app – Gotta check it out! 
  • Absolutely! But #commoncore made it a priority & gave it a label 
  • I follow the standard @AVID4College annotation strategies from both my Avid and English students
  • I model and do a “think aloud” as we read a text to teach annotation 
  • Modeling! Then baby steps to “find” certain things on their own. I make it like a scavenger hunt at first
  • Modeling on a song students would be familiar with. Using different colored markers can help keep beginner students organized
  • Ooohhh….speeches would be great for this! Which ones specifically do you do? 
  • Think Alouds and help students set purpose. Generally, students share in partners before discussion with class
  • I model annotation for my students, taking them through my thought process as I’m reading
  • Color marking; marginalia sorted left hand= elements of argument (nonfiction); right hand=style/lit devices. Plus doodling 
  • Do you ever do texts that might not be traditionally classified as “texts” like videos?
  • This year I’m starting with @KyleneBeers & @BobProbst‘s Notice and Note for #nonfiction #text
  • For our first trimester I’ve been following this format:

Q4: Do you have a standardized method of annotation or so you allow students to develop their own? 

  • I use standard marks & allow students to create their own. I encourage students to write in the margins.
  • We start with a question, followed by a search for the answer in the text. We highlight potential answers as we read
  • Think aloud and lots of examples with different text. And, different ways to interact with text. Options=tools. Find what works for students.
  • No one set way of annotating, will vary from assignment to assignment.  Having all students use the same markings on the same assignment makes for an easy visual check of understanding 
  • I always start with standard (6th grade) but then advance. Students eventually are “weaned”
  • Love this idea for poetry that I got the other night 
  • I require comments, questions. No summaries. @writeguyjeff‘s Question: What do you notice?  After 1st read I call these “Noticings.”
  • I’ve started with some standard marks. This is my 1st year to really do it seriously, so it’s still a learning process for me 


Q5: For what types of assignments do you require text annotation? How do you grade these assignments? 

  • I don’t grade annotation. It is the students thought process in understanding text. Instead, I grade a related writing assignment
  • Usually require text annotation before writing about that text, also do annotation as part of revision in the writing process 
  • The highlighting method is the first (and only) one I’ve learned, but I would love to teach my students more! 
  • Love this! @writeguyjeff “Noticings” are great! Makes me think of curiosity and how we lose it as we get older 
  • We are reading a Novel and annotating it according to the 4 embedded assessment options at the end of the unit
  • I do not grade annotation, but rather what the students do with it.
  • Do you ever have students share their annotations with each other to compare? 
  • I grade writing using annotations as text evidence. Sometimes if students use post-it’s with textbook, they attach to handout 
  • We annotate short passages mostly. I’m looking to see that students are documenting their thought process through their annotations
  • What if they are not “going deep?” How do you encourage that? 
  • My team uses annotation for lessons relating to short answer response; we don’t read any novels. I wish we did


Check out this engaging text annotation lesson.

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