Today we are sharing with you an interview between one of our teachers, Elizabeth Egan, and her student, A.S. They recently completed a unit of study on Lord of the Flies and applied several active reading strategies that are reflected upon here. We hope this gives you some insight into the wonderfully hard work our students and teachers are doing at HLLS!
T: As you know for our unit of study of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, two overarching Essential Questions guided our learning. The first was “How does annotating the text and recording my thinking sustain active reading engagement”? First give us a sense of how you went about annotating the text? Provide the nitty-gritty details!
S: First, we gathered information about the text to gain some background knowledge. We learned about the author, date of publication and even a few reviews. The author, William Golding, uses symbols quite heavily throughout the novel. So we decided to focus on five symbols.
Next, we color coded each symbol with sticky notes. Then during reading, when I came to a point in the text where the symbol was utilized, I annotated words, phrases and paragraphs with a sticky note. By the end of the book, I could skim back through and easily evaluate the significance of each symbol, making it a breeze to write about them.
T: How about the second part of capturing your thinking via 3 journal entries per week?
S: In this step, I applied the annotations to articulate my thinking into a short, rudimentary piece of writing that captured my thoughts at the time. The journal entries were mainly my interpretation of the meaning of the symbols. Sometimes it was hard to recollect what I was thinking while reading, so the annotations were very useful for rereading. The journal entries prepared me to write the essay at the end, because they showed how my understanding changed or deepened in an organized fashion.
T: How did it go… what worked and what didn’t? Be honest!
S: It was a very intuitive process. When I had difficulty starting a journal entry, I would refer back to my annotations to remind me of the significance of the symbols in the plot. When I went back to the book I could elaborate on my current thinking, which helped with the writing. Annotating and journal entries also cleared up any confusion because I could rethink my ideas and check for accuracy.
T: Okay, well what might you do differently next time?
S: I don't think I would change too much, although it might be useful to add a few notes alongside the annotations as long as they don't break the reading flow. In fact, I am currently using sticky notes to annotate the book I am reading now.
T: So, “How does annotating the text and recording my thinking sustain active reading engagement”? Be specific!
S: I think that annotating encourages reading engagement, because it asks for a deeper level of understanding while reading. This assists me in connecting thoughts and ideas that I wouldn't be able to recognise without annotation. Also, the actual act of annotating kept me alert when I was reading and writing..
T: Finally, what does A Thinking Book mean to you?
S: When I annotate, I develop a relationship with the book and the author. It’s like you can meet someone, but you really need to invest time and energy to understand them. Just like a friend you never forget A Thinking Book.
T: Thank you so much for your sharing your perspective