Annotating Informational Text and Literary Non-Fiction in ELA

Selma Hasan

  • Disciplinary Literacy Skill: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
  • Critical Literacy Skill(s):
    • Interrogating multiple viewpoints
    • Focusing on sociopolitical viewpoints
    • Taking action and promoting social justice
  • Instructional Resources Needed:

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Students will be numbered into ones and twos.
  2. Group one will be assigned the Vox article
  3. Group two will be assigned the Stamped (for kids) CBS excerpt.
  4. Students will read the articles individually and follow the guidelines below for annotating (students will have a paper copy of their assigned reading with open margins to allow for notetaking and annotating)
  5. Annotating involves:
  6. Underlining any major pieces of information provided by the text.
  7. Highlighting words they do not understand.
  8. Circling keywords in the text.
  9. Writing down their initial reaction to a piece of information (ie. I have not thought about this before, why have I not thought about this, etc).
  10. Highlighting connections they make between the two texts – this can be similar words and definitions, ideas that can be applied to pieces of information, or simple observations.
  11. The strategy for annotating and close reading helps students think critically about the texts they are reading and form a stronger understanding while being actively engaged with the reading (Fisher, 2015).

Annotation in action – Excerpt from the Vox article

The idea of anti-racism has been getting a lot of attention in recent days as Americans around the country rise up against police violence. But the idea is far from new, with roots in decades of civil rights work by black Americans, (what are some examples that can be pulled from history to support this piece of information) said Malini Ranganathan, a faculty team lead at the Antiracist Research and Policy Center.

In recent years, thanks to the work of Kendi and others, the term itself has come to be used to describe what it means to actively fight against racism rather than passively claim to be non-racist. Anti-racism involves “taking stock of and eradicating policies that are racist, that have racist outcomes,” Ranganathan said, “and making sure that ultimately, we’re working towards a much more egalitarian, emancipatory society.”

Part of that work is acknowledging our own positions in a white supremacist system (what are ways that I can be more aware of my position?). So I should acknowledge that I am a white woman, and as such, I can’t talk about what it feels like to experience racism, or to fight against it as a person of color. (As a Brown woman, I can talk about how it feels like to experience racism, but I can’t generalize and expect that to be everyone else’s experience as well). But it’s also not the responsibility of people of color to fix racism, or explain to white people how not to be racist. As Dena Simmons, a scholar and practitioner of social-emotional learning and equity and author of the upcoming book White Rules for Black People, put it, “Don’t ask the wounded to do the work.”

So I spoke to experts on the topic to help people — including myself — better understand what anti-racism means and what it looks like in practice. “White folks always want to know how they can do better,” Simmons said. “I say, start by doing something.” (where can I look more into how to do something? What does that look like).

Video Demonstration


CBS News. (2022, June 12). Book excerpt: “How to Raise an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

Fisher, D. (2015). 50 instructional routines to develop content literacy, Pearson.

North, A. (2020, June 3). How to be an antiracist: Antiracism, explained. Vox. Retrieved September 11, 2022, from

About the author

My name is Selma Hasan, and I am from Amman, Jordan. I grew up in Jordan and attended various schools, all of which introduced me to wonderful educators who shaped my love and desire for education. I moved to the United  States a few times in my childhood but settled in Iowa to pursue a degree in education. English has always been a passion of mine, and I believe there is a lot of room for learning and growth in an English classroom.