Managing The Quantity of Student Annotations

Have you had the chance to see your students deeply engaged in viewing and annotating their peers’ thinklets? We often hear from teachers how surprised and wow’d they are to see students excited to #makemathsocial and learn from each other.

But let’s think realistically for a moment. If your students regularly annotate each others’ work, that results in a lot of annotations per problem. How then, do you manage reviewing it all to make sure students are annotating appropriately and responsibly?  

The answer is, you shouldn’t have to! Your goal is not to read each annotation. Instead, it’s to develop responsible digital citizens by teaching students how to give appropriate written feedback in an online environment.

Give students ownership over their digital citizenship skills

Creating a supportive community of learners who understand digital citizenship will help take the onus off of you, while giving students the practice they need. Teach students to use the embedded sentence starters.

Fig. 1: When creating an annotation, select the 3 purple dots to access sentence starters.

Fig. 1: When creating an annotation, select the 3 purple dots to access sentence starters.

Show students how to flag inappropriate annotations. When viewing a thinklet, select the 3 white dots by an annotation to flag it. This will empower them to take ownership of the online community they are a part of. The flagging feature automatically hides a selected annotation and sends teachers a notification to review the content.

We want to guide our students closely, especially as they are developing new skills. But sometimes, we need to take the training wheels off and have students give it a go. We’ll still be there to guide them in the ways they need.

Share exemplar annotations from time to time

Students may need reminders on what quality annotations look and sound like from time to time, especially after a school vacation. When you do review students’ annotations, select 2-3 exemplars to highlight in a brief class discussion or mini-lesson on why they are exemplars.

Limit quantity of annotations without limiting learning

Students don’t need to annotate every peers’ thinklet for each problem to reap the benefits of peer-to-peer learning. Limiting the quantity of their feedback will also help students post appropriate content. Task students to annotate one thinklet that used a different strategy than they did and then annotate a second thinklet of their choice. This will expose students to multiple strategies and build in choice! It's a win-win.

If you’re just starting to introduce the annotations process to your students, go to Support> Learning Hub within the application and view the topic Annotations: Evaluating Strategies and Solutions. Here you can learn, implement, and reflect on how to introduce students to annotations to set expectations.