Several teachers have recently asked about tools to help students with close reading on digital devices. Close reading requires careful, focused attention to the text, a different reading strategy than is usually employed with reading online content. While tools like highlighters and post-it notes are useful for close readings of print text, those same tools don’t work with digital content. Working at BYOD school, I must consider both the format of the digital text and the students’ computing platform when suggesting tools to aid in close reading.
For webpages, the Evernote Web Clipper, and Evernote’s Clearly are two of my favorite digital annotation and note-taking tools. The student benefit of using Evernote for collecting and annotating webpage articles, is the articles can be easily tagged and organized, shared with others, and accessed on any internet enabled device.
The Evernote Web Clipper web extension allows you to capture an entire webpage, or just a portion of a webpage to save to your Evernote account. Once the Web Clipper is selected the mouse cursor becomes a highlighter to markup the text you’ve selected. These marks are saved with the article or webpage in your Evernote account and can be seen every time you open this page in your Evernote account. The Web Clipper can also be used to capture screenshots. Screenshots can be annotated with notes, arrows, or highlighted, and saved to your account.
Evernote Clearly is another web extension that removes distracting elements of webpages, leaving only the text, making web articles easier to read. Clearly also features a highlighting tool for marking text before it’s saved to your Evernote account. Once the page is saved to Evernote, additional notes, information and images can be added.
Students can annotate PDFs by downloading and using installed software, however sometimes these annotation tools limited. One web-based program used by our students is NotablePDF, a browser extension that allows notes, annotation and markup options on multiple page pdf documents. For documents hosted on the web, student markups are retained after leaving and returning to the document. Students can also download their pdfs with annotations and notes and save them to their own devices.
Finally, for capturing small and annotating small portions of a website, snag.gy is a great option. Using the PrintScreen button, or copy command anything can be pasted into snag.gy, from the web or anywhere on your computer. The pasted document can then be cropped, marked up or annotated. Snag.gy creates .jpg images that can easily be shared, posted, downloaded or saved to Evernote.
What other tools have you used with your students to aid in close reading of digital texts?
Author: Brooke Ahrens
Brooke Carey Ahrens is a Google Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at a bay area high school. Brooke is currently serving as a rep Northern California Region rep for the California School Library Association.