Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annotations, Notes, and Miniwrites

The National History Education Clearinghouse (teachinghistory.org) resently published an article, Writing to Learn History: Annotations and Mini-Writes, which focuses on engaging learners in history by having them question and analyze documents. The author, Chauncey Monte-Sano, emphasizes the benfits of annotating, highlighting, underlining, and making marginal notes while reading a document.

See Article {Here}

In the Classroom

  • Model the best ways to annotate documents.
  • Have students annotate individually, in pairs, or in groups.
  • Ask students to complete mini-writes independently and then share conclusions with a partner or the entire class.
  • Invite students to explain why they reached certain conclusions, using excerpts from the documents.
  • Ask students to write a final essay in response to the unit question; if annotations, mini-writes, and final essay are properly aligned, they will serve as scaffolds for the final essay.
    Common Pitfalls
The Spanish-American War unit from Historical Thinking Matters investigates the question:

Why did the United States invade Cuba in 1898?

To answer this question thoughtfully, students need to consider a range of evidence, multiple causes, and perspectives from the time period. As they analyze documents in writing, students become familiar with the causes of U.S. imperialism in 1898.

Handouts help students to use annotations and mini-writes in responding to three documents that relate to the central inquiry question and lead to an evidence-based essay. Handout 1 models how to annotate a document and offers sample guidelines. Handout 2 provides guidelines for annotating a second document. Handout 3 gives a mini-write prompt in response to an additional document.

("In the Classroom" and "Example" excerpted from Teaching History- Chauncey Monte-Sano)

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