Annotation Games

bingo FBMany students find annotation a chore. They do it for the teacher and not for their own benefit. They claim annotating makes them hate reading.

I understand where they’re coming from. Annotation is difficult. It slows down the reading process. However, we can’t build active readers without it. We want students to interact with the text and make it their own. Annotation does that.

However, we what can do is reward them for their work. Here are some fun games where students use their annotations to earn points.

Padlet Challenge

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This challenge involves the Padlet app. I’m not going to get into the basics of Padlet — you can go to their website and get a good explanation of how it works (it’s easy). But if you’re already 1:1, it’s easy to implement. Students can also use the app on their phones as well. If you don’t have devices in the classroom — or if you lust want to go low tech for the day —you can do it on large sheets of paper with post-its. I like to do the Padlet challenge when we are about halfway through the novel.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Before class select a list of items that students might have annotated as they read. Or you might have asked them to do certain types of annotations, such as asking questions or making predictions. Either will work.
  2. Assign point values to each item. For instance you might assign 1 point to things that are relatively easy to find or more common, and 2 points to things that aren’t as frequent or take a lot more effort to spot.
  3. Create a slide to project the instructions in front of the room so that students can see the point values (or just draw it on the chalkboard.)
  4. During class divide the class into groups of four or five.
  5. One member of the group will create a CANVAS with the Padlet app and share it with the others members of the group AND the teacher. The students title the canvas with the names of the members of your group.
  6. Students accumulate points by adding a PHOTO OF AN ANNOTATED PAGE to the shared canvas. In order to count for points, annotations must meet the following criteria: they must have a part of the passage highlighted or underlined, and they must have a comment that explains why it is significant.  
  7. Total the points. The group with the most points wins.

The Padlet Challenge has worked well for me because it rewards those who annotated well in the first place, while allowing those who didn’t to participate as well because they can still create annotations as they play.

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Annotation Euchre

A fellow teacher and I developed this years ago and had a lot of fun with it — especially when we dealt the superintendent in when he came to our classroom for a visit.

This one requires a little more setup, and a basic knowledge of euchre and euchre tournaments work is helpful, but not required. Basically in a euchre tournament you don’t play with a partner. You play by yourself, rotating through a number of different players. You keep the points that you win with your current partner and advance to the next game.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each student needs to have a copy of the book.
  2. Copy the directions below so each student has them:

Rules/Order of Play

For each round, you are partners with the person across from you, just like in regular euchre.

Choose a page (or a chapter — it depends on the length of your book). You’ll want to choose a passage that is especially rich in content and details. This will be your “hand” for all four games in each round.

For each “game” you will be asked to annotate your passage for a specific topic. For instance, you may be asked to find examples of character development or a specific symbol. You will then mark any examples of this in your passage.

For each example in your passage you will get a point along with any points your partner accumulates.

At the end of each round, the winners will move to the next table and the losers will remain. One loser will move to occupy the chair next to their partner from the previous round so that no one plays with the same person twice. If there is a table of two, those players will play together. If there is a table of three, each player will play individually, the players with the highest scores will move on.

The player who accumulates the most points at the end of the game wins.

Here’s a sample scorecard:            

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  1. Just like in the previous game you’ll need a list of things that students should look for- I suggest around ten. Then you randomly select one for each hand (or don’t make it random – it’s up to you.)
  2. The trick is to keep this moving quickly or you’ll run out of time. One minute per hand is optimal.
  3. Students need to be on the honors system for this one because they could make up their points or change “hands.” But as long as you aren’t assigning a grade for it, the students don’t have much incentive to cheat. I always like to tell them that in high school we are all winners.

Annotation bingo

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Sample Bingo card with page numbers. You can do chapters as well.

This requires you to use a custom bingo card generator in which you can choose your own columns and numbers. They are easy to find if you search for custom bingo cards or you can find one here.

1. You’ll create these cards by replacing BINGO with things you had them look for as they read. Or if you are using a bingo card generator that won’t allow you to change the BINGO, just assign something to each letter. Because you can customize the spaces as well, you can add page numbers or chapters or whatever you’d like. You can do this game at any point in the novel, but it works best when you’ve read at least a third. I suggest using chapters or a small range of pages instead of individual pages because it will make the game go faster. You may want to use a 4X4 grid because it will make each game go faster as well.

2. Then you play the game like regular bingo. If you get one of the ball cages you’ll be my idol, but it’s easier to write the BINGO categories on small sheets, the squares on the other, and run it that way. (There’s probably a bingo app you could use as well.)

3. Again, you’ll want to keep the game moving or it can drag. Give students enough to locate each item, but that’s it.

4. In order to prove that they have BINGO, they have to show their annotations on the page.

Learning should be fun! Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for fun resources like the ones you see below.


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