Saturday, August 10, 2013

Diigo in Close Reading

The Common Core Reading Benchmarks call for an increase in the lexile difficulty of student text, as well as an increase in the reading of informational text at all grade levels. This has led to many PDs on close reading strategies, and for me, some anxiety in the whole highlighter, coding, copying of materials.
"Is yellow used for main ideas, do we circle AND highlight?"
"What if I do not have the right colors or codification scheme?"
"All this coding needs to work for me if I am to be able to teach it to my students!"
As I sat pondering the answers to these questions, and at the same time refusing to run over to the copy machine to once again create hundreds of copies of papers that will then end up at the bottom of a backpack, crumpled up, before finally making their way to the recycle bin, I remembered another PD from several years ago about Diigo. As I vaguely remembered the tools, you could bookmark, highlight and add comments, so I figured, what about using that with the students? So I went on over, and came up with this structure for my students:

1. Yellow highlight - New words or confusing phrases (add a sticky note that defines the word or clarifies the phrase)
2. Blue highlight: Phrases the lead you to ask questions (add a sticky note that states the question - so that it can be posed during our class discussion)
3. Green highlight: Main idea
4. Pink highlight: Phrases that provide evidence or examples (add a sticky note that explains how this is an example or how the author provided evidence)
5. Sticky note(s) that provide your response to the article.

Using this scheme, I made a little exercise for myself: Diigo 

and it did work :) After some stumbles, I was able to annotate and then re-open the annotated page. I will need some more practice, but I was pleased with the ease with which I was able to accomplish the task.

Now this was done on a personal account, but supposedly with an educator account (free), you are able to also have students share annotations, which should lead to some interesting class discussions.

Right now, my only complaint is that I do not know how to change the "1" into some other character. Would it not be powerful if it could be changed into some of the coding (?,!,*,ex) that I am supposed to be teaching?

In any case, now I need to make sure we can use Diigo behind my school's firewall, and that I set aside time to download the toolbar on all our devices. (Hopefully a student job!)

I also see this as a wonderful addition to the research portion of our 20% projects.