MP- U is for Underlining and Annotating

| May 19, 2014

Most public high school students are not allowed to write at all in their school books, which means they cannot underline and annotate. This I believe prevents them from having a conversation with the text and crafting their own aesthetic from the process of reading. I cannot read without underlining and annotating, and part of the value of this process is that it allows me to go back to a text and relive my initial interaction with it. It also allows me to take a complex text, such as a Shakespearean play, and lift out the poetry in a way that makes sense to me Reading is an intensely personal, active and organic experience– at best it is a discussion between writer and reader. Underlining and annotating are critical ways of accessing and fusing with a text.

I’ve added additional photos of annotations in not only Romeo and Juliet but also The Great Gatsby. When we as teachers ask students to write about different themes in a text, we must allow them to organically draw on, underline, and mark up the text. By marking significant passages with a “D” for Daisy” or “Am Dream” for American dream, “Alc” for alcohol as a character, a reader can easily return to a text and gather evidence to support his or her ideas either in one’s head or on paper. Without this freedom, a text can become static, especially to a young reader. Post-Its are smetimes used as a substitute for annotating publically used books, but they seem less intimate and add an extra step which can interrupt one’s train of thought. Moreover, it seems invaluable to not only be able to mark up our books but also keeping them so that we can remember these old conversations we had with authors and marvel at them years later, perhaps seeing how our interpretations, epiphanies, and confusions have changed since that first reading reading–or remained the same.