How to read and prepare annotations and points for discussion on readings

HOW TO READ AND PREPARE ANNOTATIONS and POINTS FOR DISCUSSION ON READINGS

(Peter Taylor, Nov. ‘15,
adapted from guidelines of Reyes Coll-Tellechia, Ann Blum & Ruth Gilmore)

AS YOU READ, TAKE NOTES IN EACH OF THE CATEGORIES BELOW.
LABEL YOUR NOTES ACCORDING TO THESE CATEGORIES.
BRING YOUR NOTES TO CLASS and BE PREPARED TO SPEAK TO ANY of the CATEGORIES.

  • Identify the central ARGUMENTS of the author(s). Start by reading the introduction and conclusion of a book, article, or chapter. That is where authors lay out their argument and the steps that they will take to build it with evidence and examples. ALSO, take notes on the arguments and positions that the author is arguing against.
  • Given the Arguments and Setting (below), who is the announced and/or implied AUDIENCE for the work?
  • Take notes on the MAIN EXAMPLES the authors use to support their argument.
  • IDENTIFY CONCEPTS that authors use to ground or frame their arguments. Take notes that TRACE KEY CONCEPTS and their various meanings and uses throughout the reading. (This is equivalent to taking note of the THEORY and METHOD the authors use to develop and support their argument and the actions they propose follow.)
  • Take notes on CONNECTIONS – concepts, arguments, examples/evidence—and among texts by different authors. Develop a compare/contrast frame of reference based on specific arguments, concepts, events, and examples.
  • Formulate and write QUESTIONS as your read of 3 kinds: a) questions that the reading raises AND answers; b) questions that the reading raised but does not answer because they require further reading and research; and c) questions that the reading raises or answers in relation to your specific personal interests. When a book or article is doing its job, it should raise more questions than it answers and ultimately, prompt you to conduct further reading and research.
  • Include DEFINITIONS and ID’S OF KEY INDIVIDUALS and ORGANIZATIONS
  • What can you discern or find out about the SETTING for the work: What are the conditions under which the work was produced? Why – for what use — was the work produced? What’s different now, if anything? Where does the work sit in a body or bodies of knowledge? What is the work like/unlike in structure and style?
  • PERSONAL REACTIONS: What word caught your imagination, and why? What works for you, and why? What did you want to know more about? What did you struggle with? What would have been helped by? In what ways does your own inquiry connect with the work? What did you disagree with? What do you think the author(s) should consider…

PREPARE ANNOTATION FOR POSTING

  • Start with FULL REFERENCE using the same citation format that you use for your written submissions.
  • SYNTHESIZE your notes into prose that others can digest readily them. Indeed, to decide what to write, think of these annotations as resources you are providing for other students (current and future) who might not have time to read the article OR who might need stimulation/guidance about what they decide to make time to read.
  • If posting to an online platform, use an INFORMATIVE TITLE. It is not helpful to others to have to open up the post to find out what is about. If you have two annotated bibliography entries on different subjects, make two separate posts.
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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to How to read and prepare annotations and points for discussion on readings

  1. Could the items in the list be re-ordered so that there is a logic or flow to them, perhaps like ORID (e.g., http://pacific-edge.info/2010/08/orid/).

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