September 10, 2019 · Teaching & Learning annotation

Scaffolding Annotations

Below find examples and suggestions for techniques to help students become stronger critical readers using Hypothesis. Some of the following also function as organizational strategies to support students and teachers in keeping track of the large amount of data being generated by engaged readers.


Add a Page Note to every document or website you want your students to annotate. Include some scaffolded instructions -- what to look for, basic expectations, maybe even a link to the rubric. Tag the Page Note “instructions,” and also include the name of a unit of study or major concept being investigated.

If you do this consistently, students can use the “instructions” tag to find all the assigned readings quickly and easily.

Teacher Models

Ex. 1 -- Pairing annotations with a “synthesis document”

The “Big 5 Practice document” is a blank table in a shared Google Doc in which students would curate, synthesize, and bring together their main close reading work into a single text box. All the groups can see and edit the synthesized version, or they can use the tags in Hypothesis to look at different groups of observations from inside their Hypothesis dashboard.

Ex. 2 -- Direct Questions

In this case, the teacher simply asks direct questions that students should consider. This is helpful if the teacher has a very specific learning target they don’t want students to miss. Here you can see the tag is “reading prompts” -- another way to differentiate observations from assigned questions.

Ex. 3 -- Stepping Stones

Lead students on a journey from text to text and back again. In this case, the teacher sets up a comparison between an idea from Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe and the text he criticizes, Josef Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Students watch, annotate, and respond, all within Hypothesis.

Then they move to a second text:

This model moves the students through multiple texts, and asks them to make direct hyperlinks between the texts, which reinforces and enriches their schema.