Using Annotation for an On-Line E-Forum for Students
By Cynthia Gilmore Patterson


To introduce students to the Comments function of Word 2000
  • To encourage students to annotate their work using computer-mediated writing techniques
  • To expose students to hypertext applications on the ://english matters website
  • To encourage students to analyze the connections between hard copy annotations, electronic annotations and hypertext


  • Microsoft Word (95 or above)
  • Active email account
  • Floppy disk
  • Poem word-processed into Word file
  • Internet access


This is designed as a two to three-day teaching module to be taught in a computer lab.

Day 1:

Introduce students to ://english matters and guide them to hypertext applications (EX: Lesley's Smith's work; Hans Bergmann's student work, etc.). Give students handout with instructions for using the comments application of Word. Model the application using a sample poem on floppy disk.

Homework: ask students to read a poem from their text that is annotated with footnotes of some kind. Ask them to word process a particular poem in Microsoft Word (95 or above), and save to floppy disk.


Day 2:

Students bring poems on floppy disks to class. Teacher models Insert Comments function. Use the rest of class for students to do the same.


Days 3-4:

Students post hypertext poems to class listserve so that each student may download annotated poems to a floppy disk. Students give in-class oral presentations on hypertext poems (5 minutes per student presentation).

Ask students follow up questions about their annotations:

1)    Compare the print annotations about the poem you read in your text with your computer mediated annotations and those of your peers: How are the two processes similar? How are they different? Which do you prefer and why?

2) Now compare your Word hypertext with the hypertexts you read on the ://english matters website. Again, how are the two processes similar? How are they different? What does each application bring to the reading process? To the writing process?


  • You could allow student to construct an annotated poem notebook as one choice of an individual project.
  • Or you could allow students to collaborate on a ėgroup annotated poetry notebook with each student contributing an initial poem and commentary and then adding commentary to their peers' selections.
  • I chose to allow students to use their annotated poems as the basis for a comparison/contrast essay on poetry (see handout on suggested essay topics).