Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
Updated Curriculum resources
Common Sense Media is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and an independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. For years, they Common Sense media has provided resources for teachers and families to tackle digital citizenship. This year, they are updating their curriculum and have already released new information for grades 3 through 5. The new lessons are organized by grade level instead of units. Each grade includes six lessons, one for each of the key ideas: Media Balance & Well Being, Privacy & Security, Digital Footprint & Identity, Relationships & Communications, Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech, and News & Media Literacy. Changes in curriculum also include slide decks for each lesson, Google Doc handouts, Google quizzes for each lesson, new family tip pages, family activity pages, and family engagement resources.
Using the Cyberbullying grade 5 lesson as a case study, the ease of implementing the new lessons is visible. The lessons have a visual overview, which shows the sections of the lessons and the estimated amount of time for each section. The bottom section includes links for lesson resources; this lesson has a lesson slide deck, case study, lesson quiz, and section for take-home resources. The digital resources can be assigned in Google Classroom and Schoology. The Family Tips section connects to a website that overviews K-12 Family Tips to Help Kids Fight Cyberbulling and other Mean Things Online. The family activity lesson encourages families to spend time exploring digital sites like Minecraft & Fortnite. These sites, and others, with chat features are an opportunity for families to work together to learn how to block people, set accounts to private, and use help features. Finally, the Family Engagement Resources section is a toolkit for families and schools to use in navigating life in the digital age. All are great new additional resources to create a home-school connection.
Going Deeper- Recognition
Using their learning from the Common Sense Media, Be Internet Awesome and other digital resources, students have an opportunity to create landscape posters illustrating the safe use of Internet and/or mobile devices for MS-ISAC, the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center. Students can create hand-drawn and electronic art in either a single full page or a 4-panel comic. Winners from each age group (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) will be chosen and will have their artwork displayed in a calendar which is distributed throughout United States. The artwork is used in campaigns to raise awareness among children of all ages about internet safety and computer safety. The top four entries will also be produced as posters promoting cybersecurity practices. The contest is open now and runs through January 25th.
"To make the most of the internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence."
Be Internet Awesome is a campaign launched by Google in June 2017 to support parents, educators, and students with the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety.
Designed for students in 3rd-5th grade, the campaign focus on five fundamentals:
Be Internet Smart: Share with Care
Be Internet Alert: Don't Fall for Fake
Be Internet Strong: Secure Your Secrets
Be Internet Kind: It's Cool to Be Kind
Be Internet Brave: When in Doubt, Talk it Out
Common Sense Education has developed a free K-12 curriculum to "empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly, in our digital world" (Common Sense Education). These lessons are aligned to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards and are now directly available in C-CAP by grade level bands.