Annotating a text is a sort of interpretative note-taking activity that encourages personal response while challanging students to perform guided analysis. I was lucky enough to get to teach Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to an English Literature Honors class, and chose textual annotation as a part of the unit. It was surprisingly gratifying to turn to a page we discussed in class and see students had annotated an expression of understanding the concepts we were discussing, while also turning to pages we hadn’t discussed to see students expressing recognition of concepts, themes, etc. that were focused on in the unit. The following artifacts are from two students, one from my first period and one from my sixth period, that ended up having remarkably similar handwriting as you will see in the repetition of a page.
We started the unit with a concept lessons on the quest romance genre of literature. I learned many details about the movie The Hangover as from my students’ descriptions it fits this genre well. Although the image above maintains a more expected visualization of the wilderness presented in a quest romance, I recieved many annotations with images of casinos and pyramids.
The following annotation is from an activity we did in class to analyze the presentation of the theme ”every soul contains both dark truth and light truth.” For this activity I split the class in half and allowed a team captain from one team to choose whether Kurtz contained more dark imagery or light imagery in the passage we were to read. Students usually picked dark, wisely. As we read, students annotated and noted the imagery, light or dark, associated with their team. The count was tallied on the board. Students focused intently on symbolic language of the text in order to become the winning team. The score was close, showing students the symbolic representation of the theme in the language of the text.
The followin is an example of repeatedly finding a concept discussed in class annotated in texts. The irony of the representation of Kurtz’s last words was a topic of discussion.