Close Reading and Annotating
The most prevalent pre-seminar activity is to have students close read and annotate a text. This usually involves reading or listening at least twice, marking the text and/or making notes, and jotting down thoughts and questions. For written texts, this means making notes and drawing symbols in the margins, underlining and highlighting passages, writing questions, noticing and noting patterns, etc. Other types of texts can be dealt with similarly, but may require different systems, such as using sticky notes, employing graphic organizers, selecting emojis, etc.
There are many different close reading and annotating strategies that range from generally just “jot down what you’re thinking” to specific strategies and systems. Adler and Van Doran, for example, in How to Read a Book, outline about two dozen specific ideas for marking a text.
My favorite resource for literature is Kylene Beers and Robert Probst’s Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, and for nonfiction I really like their Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies. Both have specific signposts with accompanying lessons that could probably be used as low as third grade. Their book Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters provides strategies that could likely be useful starting in kindergarten.
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