I want my students to be able to track and record their thinking while they read. Annotating text has helped so many students understand text more deeply. I work with students in grades 4 and 5 to use various tools such as highlighters, pencils, stickynotes, etc. to support their understanding of what they read.
I have loved the annotation tools I've used in my own reading using Diigo and Evernote. They allow me to do the same things I do on paper, digitally. I want my students to have experience using tools on the computer to highlight and take notes with non-paper text. To get started on this, I decided to use the Preview tool and PDFs with students this week. I took a web article with visuals and all and turned it into a PDF and will put one on each student's desktop. Then I'll let them see how annotation tools work in Preview. I want them to learn the skills for annotating text and then I know those skills will transfer to more web-based reading and social bookmarking tools. I have to explore the educator accounts that Diigo and Evernote provide to determine which will best meet our needs.
After just a few conversations, I can see this helping students in their reading of online text. Often this text is overwhelming to them and these tools will help them to do what they know to do for understanding. My husband was nice enough to make a screencast of these tools for me. You can see it on his blog. Really, the preview annotation tools took me about 5 minutes to learn. I am confident that after a few minutes of exploration, these tools will be hugely helpful for my students as readers.