Annotate That!

I had already thought of an example of community to write about in this post before I pulled up Kira Baker-Doyle’s The Networked Teacher.  As I read her first chapter, I realized that participating in this course is its own example of a learning network, or community. Our participation here gives us the network of support and resources that Baker-Doyle writes is essential for success in our field.  Not surprising then, that my example of community comes directly from an idea I acquired through our #ED677 community!

Since I already spoke about my learning community, the running community online,  I want to reflect on how I used public spaces to build community, collaboration, and equitable learning opportunity in my classroom.

I had my students annotate!  We read about annotating a few weeks back in an ED677 #MondayPost.  This week, as background reading for “The Yellow Wallpaper,” I asked my students to read an article about “The History of Lunacy in the 19th Century.”  Instead of reading the article aloud, scaffolding understanding with check-in questions, and hearing answers from the same three students, I decided to try something new that my learning community brought to me.

I made the article into an editable GoogleDoc and then my students were asked to use the Comments feature to make at least five annotations as they read.  I gave them a list of 10 sentence starters/questions to help construct their annotations.  It was a rocky start as we navigated this new space together, but within a few minutes, the room was silent and buzzing.

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My students produced annotations of this text that I would have never heard aloud had we read the article as a class.  Moreover, the annotations produced by many students were at a level that depth that I had not seen them go before.  I truly think their engagement had everything to do with the fact that their work looked and read like thread, with the opportunity to reply to each others’ comments and create an ongoing conversation.  This was familiar public territory to them.  In this way, I had leveled the playing field and provided equity for all learners.  Our online annotating community brought all participators from peripheral to full participators, as defined by Lave and Wagner, because the “thread” was a familiar and inviting forum for everyone.



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