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Digital Annotation

Author: Paula Dillon

My Reflections on Annotation

In the classroom, I constantly required my students to markup their texts.  I would have them write questions to themselves, highlight information connected to questions posed in class and posted objectives, circle ah-has, and talk to the text in general.  I found that this practice improved the comprehension skills of my students, and had them "reading like a detective" even before that term was coined by David Coleman.  

Moving away from print text to digital text has created some challenges to annotation that are easily addressed using a variety of 21st Century tools.  Almost any eBook platform, including Kindle and Nook, allow the reader to bookmark, highlight, add notes, and look up unfamiliar words.  The text becomes more interactive and students can now expand their ability to talk to the text and grapple with difficult concepts.

Increasingly, there are more tools and options that allow the reader to annotate on any website and digital article found on the Internet.  Some of these tools require the student to be able to download and install or add to their toolbar (Diigo, Awesome ScreenShot, and ScreenDraw), which can be tricky on school-owned devices; however, there are many that require no installation (pdfmyurl, sciweavers, and Markup).  Although installation to the toolbar is necessary, Diigo also has an iPad app, allowing students to access their markups on the different platforms.  The real trick is to find the tool that works best for you and meets the needs of your learners.  Whatever you select, it is important to coach students in the skill of annotation and to make that skill an integral part of day to day learning.

Paula Dillon 2.11.13

Source: Paula Dillon 2.11.13

Related Articles

Annotating While Reading by North Central University Writing Center

Beyond the Yellow Highlighter: Teaching Annotation to Improve Reading Comprehension by Carol Porter O'Donnell via NCTE English Journal, 2004

Briefly Noted: Practicing Useful Annotation Skills by DINAH MACK and HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO March 7, 2011 via NY Times

 Digital Document Annotation on iPad, iPod, Touch or Laptop by Scott Mcleod via Dangerously Irrelevant

Handy New Diigo Browser Extension Features by Richard Byrne via Free Technology for Teachers 

8 Annotation Tools Teachers Should Have via

5 Free Annotation and Collaborative Tools for Web Projects by Grace Smith via


Source: Sources Cited Above

Create a PDF from any Web Page

Did you ever wish that you could save a web page as a PDF so that you could annotate later?  Have you tried doing this by taking screen shots of portions of the page?  

Here are two options for creating PDFs from any web page

1. - this tool simply does what it name indicates, creates a pdf that you can save

2.  SciWeavers - this tool creates a PDF from any web page as well as many other options.

 "Sciweavers is an academic network that aggregates links to research paper preprints then categorizes them into proceedings. The preprint links of a given proceedings are sorted using different mechanisms derived from our traffic to help researchers quickly discover top ranked papers. Also, Sciweavers offers several free online tools to improve your productivity."

Source: Paula Dillon quoting 2.11.13

pdfmyurl vs. sciweavers

Shows the similarities and differences between pdfmyurl and sciweavers.

Source: Paula Dillon using pdymyurl and sciweavers captured by Jing on powerPoint

Overview of Diigo

Video walk through of major functions of Diigo on computer and iPad

Source: Created by Diigo via Vimeo

Diigo on the iPad

Demonstration on how to use Diigo on the iPad

Source: Edtech Teacher via Vimeo on Diigo for iPad

Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot isa Google Chrome extension that also works in Safari and FireFox. It allows you to Capture, Annotate and Share:
Capture the whole page or any portion, annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text, one-click upload to share.

Source: Awesome Screenshot by Diigo via Youtube

Thing Link


Source: Thinglink catured via Jing


Video on how to use ThingLink

Source: Richard Byrne Free Tech for Teachers on ThingLink via Youtube