The beginning of a new season is always a good time to consider new ways to engage students in the classroom. One way to do it—only a few keyboard clicks away—is to incorporate Owl Eyes annotated texts into lesson plans and instruction.
In case you’re unfamiliar with using the annotated texts at Owl Eyes, here are a few things to know to get started. First of all, they’re free, and they’re comprehensive! At Owl Eyes you will find hundreds of poems, short stories, novels, and essays to which instructional annotations have been added throughout the texts—and hundreds of additional annotated works are on the way.
In the annotated texts, individual words and specific passages are highlighted. Clicking on a highlighted word or passage displays an annotation that enhances reading comprehension and understanding of the text:
- Some annotations define vocabulary words.
- Some provide information about the author or place the text in a literary context.
- Some explain allusions, clarify language, or interpret passages for implied meaning.
- Some feature reading-check quiz questions and answers.
The annotated texts can be used in a variety of ways to accomplish different purposes in the classroom. For instance, they’re a great resource to use in planning lessons:
- Reading the annotations provides a quick review of the content of the text.
- Annotations draw attention to important points to include in instruction and class discussion.
- Vocabulary lists can be constructed from the specific words in the text that are highlighted and defined in annotations.
- Quiz questions and answers found in the annotations can be used in assessment.
If you have the technology to incorporate the annotated texts into classroom activities, the texts become useful in even more ways as students read on their own. Because the texts are interactive, students become engaged in their own learning as they move through a reading selection and click on the highlights to access the annotations:
- Unfamiliar vocab words are defined for them immediately, increasing their reading comprehension.
- Answers to reading-check quiz questions provide immediate feedback.
- Allusions, figures of speech, and contextual references are explained and clarified.
- Interpretations of various passages can prompt critical thinking and inquiry.
Having students work directly with the annotated texts makes it possible to use them in reteaching, enrichment, differentiation, independent study, and class review. They are helpful in modifying instruction as needed; making individual reading assignments from the texts allows students to read and work at their own pace. Also, many of the annotated texts feature supplementary instructional resources, such as Notes and Reading Pointers for Sharper Insight.
It’s traditional with the arrival of the new year to say, “Out with the old, and in with the new!” That’s good advice when it comes to bad habits, but to jettison tried-and-true teaching strategies because they are “old” makes no sense at all. What does make sense is using new resources in implementing new strategies to reach students more effectively. In fact, it makes perfect sense when you remember what a monumental job it is to educate kids! This year as you consider new ways to enhance instruction and learning in your classroom, check out the annotated texts at Owl Eyes. They’re great resources to add to your toolbox and use in many different ways to get the job done.
This is a post from eNotes Staff Writer, Susan Hurn. Susan is a former high school English teacher and college instructor. She loves writing for eNotes and also enjoys good books, creative writing, and all things related to history. Let us know if you’re interested in contributing to the eNotes blog.