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Metacognitive skills strategies: When and How to Annotate


To increase student comprehension and engagement with material by teaching them how to decide which kinds of annotation strategies to use.


Students will think through the purpose of their annotations and tailor them to be useable/reviewable for that student.

Action Steps

Teacher will explain that there are many kinds of annotations for many different purposes.

Ask the two basic questions: 1) Is this annotation for my own understanding only or is someone else going to look at it? 2) Am I ever going to reread this again?

From there, the student needs to think through how they are likely to use this document again. For example, if the document is 10 pages long, they are likely only to skim it again, and therefore having a one sentence summary on the left-hand side margin is more useful than many notes throughout. If they are writing this document just to process this for themselves, their annotation is going to look different. If they are using this to review for a test in a few days and they are unlikely to forget the material between now and then, again, the annotation strategy is different. The goal is for the student to be able to tailor how they read and annotate for the occasion.


University of North Carolina. (2021) Retrieved August 2021 from https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/metacognitive-study-strategies/

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