Final Project Course One: Annotexting

As EAL teacher in grade 5 at my school, I collaborate┬áwith teachers to provide language instruction. My grade 5 team does Literature Circles with their students and we had started some walk-throughs in each other’s classes on how we each did Literature Circles. Some of us felt students weren’t showing enough quality discussions, some of us weren’t quite sure what to look for or how to communicate to students what that should look like. We’d tried fishbowl activities, plenty of modelling, but we still felt some groups weren’t getting the most out of this potentially enriching activity- so how could we improve this? How could we get the students to reflect themselves on what quality discussion looked like?

Earlier, I had come across Annotexting on Sylvia Tolisano’s blog Langwitches.

“Annotexting is a process that involves the collection of thoughts, observations and reactions to reading that show evidence of critical thought. These annotations, rather than being on paper, can be collected with different web tools so that students can collaborate, both locally and globally, around the conclusions that they will ultimately draw from their reading.”

Here was an opportunity for deep inquiry into the students’ own reading behaviours through the use of technology. On top of that, if they blogged about it and then tweeted their post to their book’s author- that would be a rich opportunity for global collaboration. So here is how we went about it:

  • First, we introduced the students to the kinds of things you should be hearing during a Literature Circles discussion. We put the behaviours on sheets of paper across the room and students were asked to add examples of their own discussions. This gave us a good idea of their understanding.
  • We showed them a few videos of annotexted literature discussions, provided by Sylvia Tollisano.
  • Then, we asked one group of students┬áto create an annotexted discussion, based on the criteria we had given them.
  • This group was then asked to explain the process and show their video to the other classes.

We still weren’t satisfied that all students were able to label their discussions- so one of my co-teachers and I decided to model a discussion and record it for the other two classes. While they were watching they each had a feature of what they should be looking for. We replayed the video and stopped it at places where they wanted to add their suggestions.

Students are now in the process of creating reflective blogposts with embedded videos of their literature circles discussions. It will be interesting to see whether, if they tweet their post to the author of their book, they will get a response. It will also be interesting to see how much attention they will give to crafting their blogpost, if they know a real writer will potentially be their audience!

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Marcelle,

    I am Marcello, a coach in your online 6 cohort. I really enjoyed reading about this project, it has so many different facets where the introduction of technology is making a difference in the way that the students can learn and interact.
    The two aspects that resonate most with me are the reflection piece on a blog, and the sharing of their writing through social media. Both of those are areas that I am very involved in myself as a learner, and I love to follow how other teachers are engaging with those ideas. I am looking forward to seeing what sort of response your students get on their blog posts.
    Helping students to develop an audience through blogging is a challenge that I would love your input on. Good luck, and keep posting!

  2. Jon Banules says:

    Hi Marcelle!

    Ha ha this is so cool how the students were actually analyzing their own reading/commenting/response behaviors and skills with iMovie.

    Your post has not only made me think of many areas where annotexting could be useful in helping students reflect on their own learning and create a product to show this reflection, but also has made me think about using this method for analyzing my own teaching practices. This ties in to all our discussion as a faculty of feedback this year during our PD meetings at ISPP. I think it could be helpful for both an observing teacher and the teacher being observed to record and annotext a lesson maybe once a year.


  1. November 6, 2016

    […] The following post is cross-posted from Amplified Learning. […]

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