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Annotating with Sticky Notes

You may have noticed that students of all ages are reading with a book in one hand and a pen or a pencil in the other. Teachers are asking for age-appropriate "close reading" in keeping with the latest literacy standards. While third graders are not looking for abstract concepts like symbols, motifs, and themes in their books, they are able to examine character traits and setting.

It is difficult for most children to notice these small details and to write about them at the end of a chapter or the end of a book without taking notes. Yet, the practice of note-taking itself is a challenge for a lot of young readers because it takes time and interrupts the flow of reading. I like highlighting and making quick jots in the margins of books because they are relatively fast methods of note taking. However, these are not always practical with loaned books, and some children resist pausing even just for the seconds required to write a few words on the edge of a page. There is an even faster note-taking method that, while less perfect in terms of information gathering, is great for encouraging reluctant note takers.

Grab several colors of sticky notes and assign each color to a purpose. For example, all observations about character traits might be assigned to yellow notes, and all observations about setting could be assigned to purple notes. As your child notices these things in the reading, tag them with a note. Simple. If she gets to the point where she can add a few words of text about why she is adding the note, that's great. However, just adding in the note as a form of color-coded bookmark is a great start that will make book discussions and analytical writing much easier later on.


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