Annotating text with post-its for essay planning

Now then. Here’s another very quick post writing up a lesson I had today with my Year 11 Classics group. We’ve just started planning for the C*ntr*ll*d *ss*ssm*nt question (“Aeneas is too weak-willed to be a real hero”. How far do you agree with this statement?) and after reading through and discussing the role and character of Aeneas in Book One of The Aeneid, we needed to get our first impressions of him.

I asked the pupils to skim through the Book and stick a blank post-it wherever Aeneas appeared – if he was doing or saying something himself, or being spoken about by other characters. Next, I asked the pupils to briefly state on each post-it what is going on with Aeneas at that point: what is he doing, how is he described, what impression do you have of him? etc:

CA postit2

Then, I asked pupils to go over each of Aeneas’ appearances that they had summarised and decide if they felt it showed him to be ‘weak-willed’ or ‘heroic’, based on their own interpretations of these terms. (As I said, these are their first impressions of the character, so we haven’t yet fully established the working criteria of ‘weak-willed’ or ‘heroic’ for their full write-up.)

Once they’d assessed each of his appearances in the Book, I asked pupils to write a very brief, impressionistic answer to the question being investigated, based solely on their reading of the character in the first book:

CA postit3

These post-its will then be added to their Controlled Assessment research diaries, and can be used later on as we go through the text and begin to plan the essay in deeper detail.

This approach would be useful, I suspect, in annotating any text when looking for useful details for extended writing tasks. For the requirements of the Controlled Assessment specifically, it allows you to keep the text ‘clean’ for when the pupils begin the ‘controlled’ write-up part of the assessment whilst providing the same function as traditional margin notes or pencil annotation.

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