Reading on Digital Devices: Use Annotation to Push Student Thinking

The world of education has changed greatly with the introduction of tablet technology. Students can interact with content in a completely new way, and teachers are adapting to these changes.

When students read on a digital device, the experience of reading is altered. Highlighters, sticky notes, and index cards are no longer the default study tools of readers today. When reading on digital devices, students have options to interact with text as they read. From tapping on the screen to learn a definition, swiping a passage to highlight, or underlining with an annotation tool, the reading experience on tablets can transform the way we traditionally think about reading text.

Students who read on a digital device have lots of options at their fingertips. The ability to annotate, color code and take notes without diving into a backpack to search for study tools can help students stay focused as they read. Annotation is an important part of close reading – a strategy that can push student thinking while reading complex texts.

As students read on digital devices, annotation is key to deeper understanding. Encourage students to take notes as they read with a purpose. You might instruct students to underline when they come across a puzzling statement or jot a question in the margin of their page. Part of your annotation routine in your classroom might include using specific colors to indicate thinking such as circling in yellow when a student has a question or underlining in orange when they make a self-to-text connection.

Digital devices provide a new way for students to interact with text. As you think about the integration of tablet technology in your classroom, push students to annotate as they read!


Monica Burns
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Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator and Founder of ClassTechTips.com. In her role as a classroom teacher she used iPads one to one with her students to create engaging, differentiated learning experiences. Monica visits schools to work with PreK-12 teachers to make technology integration exciting and accessible and has presented to numerous national and international audiences including SXSWedu, ISTE and EduTECH. Monica is a regular contributor to Edutopia and the author of Deeper Learning with QR Codes and Augmented Reality: A Scannable Solution for Your Classroom available from Corwin Press in March 2016.