I have vivid memories of reading Scholastic Classroom Magazines as a kid in fifth grade. I remember sitting in a circle as a class reading through the latest current events. Our teacher would ask us to highlight anything we were learning for the first time, underline whatever we found to be important and jot down any questions or thoughts we had in the margins. She would then ask us to call out what we learned and discuss amongst ourselves what we found to be most interesting or shocking about the article. Utilizing Classroom Magazines, my fifth grade teacher taught our class how to annotate. This is a skill I use every day.
I annotate everything. In middle school and in high school, I would scribble notes in packets and on reading materials. In college, I would highlight, underline and circle words directly in my text books. My favorite subjects in school were the ones I found most thought provoking. One of my favorite subjects is art history. My art history text books were always filled with notes and color. The more they were filled with questions and ideas, the better, because there was so much I was thinking about.
When I would study for exams, I would write and re-write my thoughts to help myself remember them. While taking the exams, I could see the words I had highlighted, wrote down and studied in the margins as I was reading.
Now as I work, I constantly write things down. I am surrounded by notebooks and pages filled with words. I highlight the new things I learn and write down thoughts that inspire me. When I’m on-the-go, I keep a small notebook and a pen with me, because inspiration and the impulse to write something down can strike at any time.
I also take notes as I’m reading. My fifth grade teacher encouraged us to mark up our personal books with our thoughts and ideas as we were reading. She told us that when we’d re-read the same pages weeks, months or years later, we’d look back and think about how our thoughts might have changed or stayed the same. And she encouraged us to add new notes and continue to think. I always thought that was really interesting.
My fifth grade teacher who taught me how to annotate using Classroom Magazines taught me a skill I still think is so important today. She taught me the power and importance of internal reflection, and she taught me how to be an independent thinker; how to acknowledge my thoughts, how to express myself and how to figure out what is important to me. Thanks to these lessons, I will continue to annotate for life.