At a Glance


  • Interdisciplinary
  • STEM
  • Physics

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP



Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Solving problems
  • Analyzing
  • Writing

Technical Details

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Multiple class periods (2-3 classes)

Instructional Purpose

  • Preparation & knowledge activation


The aim of this activity is to help students scaffold the process of social annotations, learning to comment, start & sustain rich comment threads. This activity helps students improve their quality of reading annotations using platforms like Perusall . The use of each of the four activities, which takes place over 2 lab classes, can be applied ad hoc.

In four tasks, students are given a scaffold for improving their reading annotations. In task 1 students show evidence of reading and comprehension and their annotations help students do the same. In questions, they learn to say first what they understand. In the second task, students are shown more specific criteria for evaluating annotations and are given a template for different types of annotations (ex: asking/answering questions). Students apply this in task 3 by improving examples of Q&A annotations. Finally in task 4, students are shown three other types of annotations and are asked to write each type connected to a specified text.

Instructional Objectives

  • To improve the quality of reading annotations

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Phoebe Jackson

Phoebe Jackson

John Abbott College, Montreal

  • Students get a template for writing good annotations and are shown more varied kinds than just Q&As.
  • Social annotations increase what you get out of the textbook by enhancing the reading. Students then can learn more while reading annotations
  • Engagement in the activity is better (it is easier for them and also, taking time in class shows students that the teacher  is invested in social annotation.)
  • If left to the last moment, students often find it difficult to come up with a unique annotation, this activity helps them practice various kinds of annotations and ways of responding to their peers in helpful ways.
  • Teachers need to support the students on the tasks as they get harder. There are grey areas in the answers to the tasks.
  • Doing this at the beginning of one or two lab sessions would not take out as much of the class time.
  • Break the tasks into pieces and implement the ones which are the most helpful to your students. 3) You can use your own examples of student annotations – they don’t have to be physics-based.


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