Nolan Catholic High School
School Year 2018-2019
In a continuing effort to foster active, critical reading skills, we are using the same approach to our summer reading selection and assignment this year that we did last year. There will be no written work assigned with the reading. Instead, Nolan Catholic English teachers expect you to spend your time simply reading and annotating this text. When you return to school in August, you will sit for a timed essay comprised of one full class period. You will be allowed to use your book with annotations for the essay, which will be essential since relevant and purposeful quotations will be required. The essay will count for your first major grade of the quarter.
Nolan Catholic English teachers want to prepare you for the kind of focused reading you will need to do all year in order to be successful—now, through your senior year, and in college. The kind of annotations you make in your book will determine the ease with which you are able to write your essay and defend your thesis with quality, relevant evidence. Some tips for successful annotation from the Harvard College Library and a strategy guide are included below.
It is extremely important that you read the book and make your own annotations—not all classes may be given the same essay prompt, and therefore doing your own annotations is vital to knowing how to get to the necessary quotations quickly when composing the essay. In addition, merely copying someone else’s annotations is tantamount to cheating, and the NCHS plagiarism policy will be followed by teachers if this is suspected. Please note that the use of material from online resources such as Sparknotes, Cliff Notes, etc. is considered plagiarism. We prefer you do your own thinking.
The expectations regarding the quantity of annotations will vary depending on grade level, but ultimately, you will need to provide many quotations in your essay. Ideally, you should read a text purely for enjoyment and then annotate during a second read-through; however, we do understand this is not always possible and you should be fine annotating during a first read. On the first day of class, your teacher will designate a day for the timed writing—you must bring your book to write the essay or you will have to write without it (and thus not be able to quote, leading to a deduction of points).
Finally, the summer reading selections for each grade level:
- Freshmen: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
- Sophomores: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Juniors: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Edition)
- Seniors: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- AP Seniors: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Following Information is Taken from the Harvard College Library Website:
Annotating: “Dialogue” with yourself, the author, and the issues and ideas at stake.
From start to finish, make your reading of any text thinking-intensive.
First of all: throw away the highlighter in favor of a pen or pencil. Highlighting can actually distract from the business of learning and dilute your comprehension. It only seems like an active reading strategy; in actual fact, it can lull you into a dangerous passivity.
Mark up the margins of your text with WORDS: ideas that occur to you, notes about things that seem important to you, reminders of how issues in a text may connect with class discussion or course themes. This kind of interaction keeps you conscious of the REASON you are reading and the PURPOSES your instructor has in mind. Later in the term, when you are reviewing for a test or project, your marginalia will be useful memory triggers.
Develop your own symbol system: asterisk a key idea, for example, or use an exclamation point for the surprising, absurd, bizarre. Like your marginalia, your hieroglyphs can help you reconstruct the important observations that you made at an earlier time. And they will be indispensable when you return to a text later in the term, in search of a passage, an idea for a topic, or while preparing for an exam or project.
Get in the habit of hearing yourself ask questions—“what does this mean?” “why is he or she drawing that conclusion?” “why is the class reading this text?” etc. Write the questions down (in your margins, at the beginning or end of the reading, in a notebook, or elsewhere. They are reminders of the unfinished business you still have with a text: something to ask during class discussion, or to come to terms with on your own, once you’ve had a chance to digest the material further, or have done further reading.
Look for repetitions and patterns:
These are often indications of what an author considers crucial and what he expects you to glean from his argument. The way language is chosen or used can also alert you to ideological positions, hidden agendas or biases. Be watching for:
Repeated words, phrases, types of examples, or illustrations
Consistent ways of characterizing people, events, or issues
Strategies for Annotation
**You should have a minimum of one annotation for every two pages. Exceptional annotation will be consistent and more frequent than the minimum.
1. Asking questions for clarification
What confuses you? What is unclear? What might be helpful for better understanding?
2. Sketching or describing images
Select confusing or important scenes from the text and sketch or write a description of the image you are/should be picturing as you read.
3. Asking questions for discussion
These are questions for interpretation and analysis. These are not plot-based questions, but questions requiring inference, deeper thought, and/or analysis. They are not yes or no questions, but rather thought-provoking questions that force us to dig deeper into the text.
4. Identifying and explaining significant passages. Look for literary devices.
Mark passages that seem particularly important for conflict, conflict resolution, character development, theme, plot development, point of view, setting, or symbolism. Re-read the passage and briefly explain why each one if important. This is not merely highlighting or underlining.
5. Noting diction and figurative Language
Mark passages that are particularly powerful in their wording or use of imagery/figurative language. Write a brief explanation of the effect or purpose of the literary device. This is not merely highlighting or underlining.
6. Making connections outside the text
Explain connections from the work to aspects of your own life, other works, or historical or cultural events. Describe the significance of these connections and how they affect the story or your interpretation of it.