Every year in January, I take time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with students by: reading about his life, listening to his speeches, and discussing his message. I am always amazed after teaching about MLK for over 18 years, that I still learn something new or that I am inspired in some new way by his words. Today I am sharing with you how I work on the critical close reading concept of annotating a text using Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Recently I did a post explaining how I teach my students to annotate a text. In case you missed it here is a brief overview:
One of the most important skills I teach my students as we begin to work on close reading
is how to annotate texts. Annotating a text is when you 'mark up' a text to indicate places
of importance. Sometimes you are circling a word, underlining a phrase or highlighting a
sentence. Annotating also includes writing notes in the margin about the text. These notes
might be thoughts or questions about the text. Annotating helps the reader keep track of
ideas and questions.
Benefits of Annotating a Text
The benefits of annotation include:
Keeping track of key ideas and questions
Helping formulate thoughts and questions for deeper understanding
Fostering analyzing and interpreting texts
Encouraging the reader to make inferences and draw conclusions about the text
Allowing the reader to easily refer back to the text without rereading the text in its entire
Annotating With a Purpose
Students are taught to read with a purpose, and they should also be taught to annotate with a purpose. Teaching students to annotate with a purpose will help them focus on what is most important about the text.
When teaching annotation I instruct students to use the following symbols:
Underline key ideas and major points.
Write a ? next to anything that is confusing, such as unfamiliar words or unclear information.
Circle key words or phrases.
Put an ! next to surprising or important information or information that helps you make a connection.
How to Model Close Reading Annotation
My "I Have a Dream" Close Reading Kit includes resources for teaching close reading annotation! In the kit you'll find an instructional guide for teachers and annotations for the first 10 paragraphs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Here's how to use the first two resources in the kit:
Explain to students that the annotations of skillful readers identify what they don’t understand and point out major facts or ideas they want to remember and use in their discussions and writing. Annotation also encourages readers to make inferences and to draw conclusions about the text, as well as to make interpretations on a deeper level.
Next, review the symbols students should use when annotating a text. Caution students that over-annotating will be confusing rather than helpful.
Then read the first 10 paragraphs of the "I Have a Dream" speech and pause to model how to annotate with your students. You may want to make individual copies of the "I Have a Dream" close reading annotations for students to keep handy (this is included in the Close Reading Kit).
Additional Close Reading Activities
In addition to the annotation resources, the I Have a Dream" Close Reading Kit includes an extension activity to analyze the author's craft (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s word choice) and a guide to improving comprehension by focusing on the big idea of each stanza.
Teaching your students how to annotate a text with a purpose will help them keep track of key ideas, unfamiliar words or concepts, and will help them formulate thoughts and questions. It also encourages the reader to make inferences and draw conclusions about the text, as well as, make interpretations on a deeper level. Annotating allows the reader to easily refer back to the text without rereading the text in its entirety.