Adventures in Annotations

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 January 2021 –

Annotations aren’t typically the most fun or interesting moment in any class. However; my dear friend Señora Lovely recently brought them back up to my attention & gave me several new ideas on how to use annotations in my classroom. You can read more about Señora Lovely’s ideas & how she mixed up annotations here. You can also check out her Instagram to see more amazing teacher moments and ideas here.

So what are annotations? I use the annotations chart from The Comprehensible Classroom by Martina Bex. Her blog post from 2015 not only has the picture you’ll see used a few times in this post, but also gives some great ideas. In short, annotations are a way to help students break down a reading into recognizable, comprehensible pieces so that as a whole the story may be better understood. If these symbols or annotation groupings don’t work for your reading, you can mix it up! I have a few options that I rotate out with “Me have reír” like “me hace llorar” for sad readings. I also have an anchor chart version that I keep up in my room for easy seeing.

Since Señora Lovely reminded me of just how engaging annotations can be, we’ve done them in all four levels of my Spanish classes. Yep. Spanish 1 through Spanish 4. But my Spanish 1s and 2s needed a little help. See, they knew about the concept of annotations from their English and Literature classes, but they needed some help with the application of annotations in the World Language classroom. So I created a “mini-story” to review how-to-do-annotations with them and we did a “mini-example” together.

Being that I’m a hybrid-teacher right now…meaning I have kiddos in my room and kiddos on Zoom, I needed a way to both model what you see above and have my online kiddos get the same experience. Enter, Jamboard. Jamboard has become my saving grace in online learning to get kids engaged in the same process as my in-person kiddos.

After teaching how we do annotations in the classroom and going through our “mini-story” example, I gave my students a copy of the class story we created the class period prior (I only teach one class of each level except for Spanish 1. Spanish 1 got a different classes story and this made things extra fun!). This was helpful because it had been a week since we asked/wrote our class story (Thanks, block schedule & MLK Day for the day off school!) After students annotated their own story, students completed a story map option from Martina Bex’s FLEX plans to map out the story to show their new level of comprehension.

Story-asking can be so much more than just asking the story & doing a random follow-up activity. I get 3 full, 90 minute, class periods from my storyasking! *About 75 minutes if you don’t count the warm-up and Garbanzo we do each day*

Here’s my few days run-down “Story-asking” lesson plans if you’d like to give it a try:

Day 1 – Introduce the target verbs from Martina Bex’s SOMOS FLEX Unit (5, 7, 15) along with FLEX activities Day 1. + Garbanzo to introduce the target verbs.

Day 2 – Review target verbs + storyask (if there is some extra time, we act out the story after!)

Day 3 – Teach annotations, example, annotate class story + story map

Day 4 – Cut the story into 9-10 pieces, have students rearrange story (Jamboard for virtual students!) after students get the story in the correct order, they illustrate the story

Do you use annotations in your classroom? How could your students benefit from this amazing cross-curricular skill?

Get your free template to teach Annotations using Jamboard here!

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