Depending on your teacher, you might be encouraged to make marginal notes in your textbooks or supplemental reading materials. Marginal notes involve active reading in the sense that they engage you in the content by requiring you to make notes exactly where the name implies: in the margins.

Definition Expanded

Think of marginal notes as ancillary to the underlining or highlighting you might already be doing with a pen, pencil or highlighter. Most often, marginal notes consist of questions, reactions and observations related to the content. You might write, for example, “Note how Hemingway speeds up the tempo of the dialogue here” or “Find out if this last book of his might be autobiographical in some way.” Marginal notes can be useful in classroom exchanges by jogging your memory about important points worthy of further exploration.

Time Well Spent

Writing marginal notes takes time, as you have to ponder what you've read before picking up a pen or pencil and writing in the margins. But a case can be made that this process -- contemplation and response -- means that marginal notes can enhance your comprehension of the material you read.

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