Annotation as Research and Pre-writing

By Sean Hackney of Joliet Township High School

Description #

This assignment moves from collaborative annotation as class discussion to individual annotation as research methodology, culminating in a final argumentative essay. You can view the assignment in its entirety here.

Assignment #

Purpose #

This assignment is designed for you to develop an argument based on the careful reading of a minimum of four articles or essays, centered around the same subject, as found on The Electric Typewriter, synthesizing ideas that both support and contradict a position you develop about your chosen subject. 

We will practice the kind of careful reading you will need to do for this assignment using David Foster Wallace’s Harper’s Magazine article “Ticket to the Fair.” Annotations of the text will be made using Hypothesis. We will discuss how to make annotations using Hypothesis and also what annotations should consist of

Every annotation you publish should use the course tag, _______, so that we can easily curate annotations. 

The argument you make should be generated from annotations you made (or that you read from others) in the various articles.

Assignment #

Compose an argument of 1000+ words that fulfills the purpose of the assignment.  

  • Introduction
  • Background information that states the issue being discussed
  • Offer your point of view (I say) with support from the sources you read.
  • Acknowledge opposition or complications to your argument (They say) using your ideas plus the sources you read.
  • Offer a rebuttal to the opposing side using your best argument strategies.

Genre #

Your argument should follow the pattern of classical argument below as it best fits:

Note: At this point in the year, your knowledge of how to write arguments (college essays) is well developed. Now the emphasis moves from how you are writing to what you are arguing. As your instructor, I’m assuming that you understand how to construct an argument (college essay), so I want to read what you have to say about the subject you have chosen to read about. Establish your voice (the evaluation paper should have helped you relax a bit and find how you can sound like you when writing) and make sure to include evidence for all of the claims that you make. 

Sources #

Minimum of four sources from The Electric Typewriter. All sources must be documented on a Works Cited page, and you should include links to the articles in your paper and on the Works Cited page. This isn’t necessarily required, but with digital scholarship it makes sense to include links to sources.

Bonus points (not really, but you get the idea …): Reply to a classmate’s annotation in the text(s) that you read. You may even decide to include something a classmate said in an annotation from one of your texts in your essay. 

Audience #

You will have the option of including a link to your “published to web” Google Doc as an annotation on The Electric Typewriter. 

Length:  1000+ words

Format/Medium/Layout #

You will submit a formal college essay with MLA headings, headers, title, font, format and spacing, along with a Works Cited page, but you are encouraged to digitize the essay where appropriate so that we can more easily convert the essay for Millennial Mentality. 

Stance #

You will make an argument about some facet of the subject you focused on for your reading.

Scoring Guide  #


The following guide to feedback rates the student’s demonstrated achievement for each of the standards of the assignment. The following scale is used: 

Level of Demonstrated Achievement Descriptor 
4 Excellent 
3 Proficient 
2 Adequate 
1 Limited 
0 Incomplete 

4=A; 3=B; 2=C; 1=D 

Purpose  #

  • Understand and apply concepts for textual analysis and interpretation of nonfiction
  • Understand and apply critical-reading skills to a longer text 

Genre #

  • Demonstrate appropriate conventions of written English
  • Use correct MLA format for quotations, in-line citations and citing the source essay 
  • Apply the strategies and conventions of argumentation with sources

Medium/Design #

  • Use technology effectively and correctly to complete written assignments

Audience #

  • Apply conventions of writing for academic discourse, including appropriate voice, person and diction

License #

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license