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Annotation

As you work with your text, think about all the ways that you can connect with what you are reading.
What follows are some suggestions that will help with annotating:
~Plan on reading most passages, if not everything, twice. The first time, read for overall meaning and
impressions. The second time, read more carefully. Mark ideas, new vocabulary, etc.
~Begin to annotate. Use a pen, pencil, post-it notes, or a highlighter
*Define words that are new to you.
*Mark passages that you find confusing with a ???
*Write questions that you might have for later discussion in class.
*Comment on the actions or development of characters.
*Comment on things that intrigue, impress, surprise, disturb, etc.
*Note how the author uses language. Use the literary devices sheet.

~Suggested methods for marking a text:


*If you are a person who does not like to write in a book, you may want to invest in a supply of post it notes.
*You should color code your annotations by using different color post-its, highlighters, or pens
*Brackets: If several lines seem important, just draw a line down the margin and
underline/highlight only the key phrases.
*Marginal Notes: Use the space in the margins to make comments, define words, ask questions, etc.
*Underline/highlight: Caution! Do not underline or highlight too much! You want to concentrate on the
important elements, not entire pages (use brackets for that).
*Use circles, boxes, triangles, squiggly lines, stars, etc.

Particular things to look for in the passage:


Situation: What is this passage about? Is it about a decision a character takes, a revelation he/she comes to,
or an event and what that reveals? Or does it reveal a persons circumstances and character?
Characters: Is there a central character? What do we learn about him/her? How do we learn this: -through
others comments, through description, through interior monologue, through dialogue or something else? Is
there anything significant about his/her relationships? What other characters are involved? What do we learn
about them?

Setting: Where does the passage take place? Does this affect the meaning of the passage? Is the passage
narrated chronologically, or does it look forwards or backwards at any point? In either case, why is this done?
What does it achieve? Is time of significance?
Structure: How is the passage structured? Does it fall into several sections, or is it one unbroken piece of
writing? What effect does its structure have? Why is it structured that way? (eg: different stages of a journey?
a progression of thought? something else?)
Syntax: Is there anything unusual about punctuation, sentence length and complexity?
Description/language/imagery: What part does description play? Does it provide setting, add to
atmosphere, tell us about the characters, or what? How are diction or images used, and what effect do they
create? What symbols are used, and to what effect? Comment on the adverbs (tone), adjectives (detail) and
verbs (energy) where appropriate.
Themes: Are there any central theme(s) running through the passage? What are the main themes of the
passage and how do they tie in with the images?
What kind of effect does the passage have on you? Does it engage you by presenting a suspenseful and
dramatic situation, or with a character or characters in whom you take an interest? You need to evaluate
WHAT the writer is describing and HOW s/he has gone about conveying their message.
You want to answer two key questions:

what is the writers intention and purpose here?


what techniques do they use to communicate that message / purpose and make the reader respond in
a certain way to characters and events described?