Annotation Assignment for a Literature Survey Course

By Anissa Graham of University of North Alabama

Description #

This assignment is a class activity designed for a fully online asynchronous 200-level literature survey course. The assignment encourages students to engage with text by having them respond to focused questions. The goal is to model questioning strategies that students might use in later assignments. Additionally, students may try out a way of responding to peer’s comments through the “Yes, and,” “Yes, but,” or “Not exactly, but instead” method. The version of “Christabel” students will access is from the Poetry Foundation.

Assignment #

Why are we annotating? #

Annotation is an essential skill for anyone who wishes to critically engage with a text. While annotation can be a solitary activity, this semester we will be annotating collaboratively as well individually. The annotations we will complete in this course are designed to encourage you to think of yourself as a member of the academic community (which you are!) with expertise and insights to share.

How do we approach annotation? #

As members of the academic community, you may wish to adopt a more formal tone in collaborative annotations than you might when annotating alone; this will mean following the rules of netiquette as well as Standard American English grammar practices. Your audience for your annotations will be your peers in the class and me. I will be annotating texts with you — sometimes as a guide and sometimes as another curious researcher.

What are we doing in our annotations? #

Annotation assignment in this course will ask you to either respond to specific questions I post to check for understanding of a work OR draw connections between a text and your own experiences and between a text and other texts in the course. You will also respond to each other’s annotations through a “Yes, and”; “Yes, but”, or “Not exactly, but instead” approach.

When you agree with someone else’s response and have something you’d like to add to their post, click reply and begin your post with “Yes, and”. What follow is your additional insight.

When you mostly agree with someone else’s response but want to share a slightly different observation or perhaps ask a question, click reply and begin your post with “Yes, but”. “Yes, but also” would be a good start for the different observation style post, and “Yes but what about” would be a good start for a question.

When you are uncertain about your peer’s point, you disagree with the interpretation, or you don’t see the evidence used in the response connecting to the text, you might try the “Not exactly, but instead” approach. In this approach, you want to provide specific relevant examples that outline what you see the text saying, highlighting what is different in your approach from the post you are responding to.

Instructions for Annotations for Christabel: #

  1. Before you begin annotating the text, read the poem at least once to get a sense of the poem’s rhythm and pacing.
  2. Review the questions posted throughout the poem. Choose three questions to respond to. Read the lines in the text carefully, and refer to them as you craft your response. Use complete sentences, and follow the rules of Standard American English grammar.
  3. Optional: Review the responses of your peers. Choose one response to reply to using the “Yes, and,” “Yes, but,” or “Not exactly, but instead” method.

Questions to choose from (Will be posted as my annotations of the text):

  1. Lines 58-68 introduce Geraldine. What’s noteworthy about the description? Pay attention to clothes and where she is. What can we assume about her?
  2. Look at Geraldine’s story of her abduction (lines 79-163). What are we to make of it? Does anything standout as unusual or odd in the account?
  3. In lines 6-13, the mastiff knows something we don’t. What might that be? Why do you think Coleridge use an animal to help foreshadow events?
  4. Christabel looks on an unguarded Geraldine (lines 245-254). What does she see or perhaps not see? What in the description affects our response to Geraldine?
  5. What are we to make of Geraldine’s curse (lines 265-278)?
  6. What is the purpose of Bard Bracy’s vision (lines 521-563)?

Rubric: #

I intend to use a holistic rubric in Canvas. Students will earn points for responding to three questions of their choice. Each question is worth 5 points. I’ll be using the free-response comments feature in Canvas rubrics to provide feedback. Students have the option of responding to a peer for this assignment as practice for future annotations. There will be a space on the rubric for me to respond to the comments, but students won’t earn points for that post.

Example #

Question 1 Response: Response refers to specific elements in the lines highlighted to answer the question. Response is written in clear, precise prose. The response may also connect the lines to other lines within the poem or to the author’s experiences. (Each response will have the same description.)