An Annotated Bibliography can serve several functions
- a summary
- a chance to voice and support opinion
- the kind of analysis requiring close reading
- an opportunity to find resources for, and utilize correctly, citation styles
Summarizing is often very difficult for student writers/thinkers. When taught properly, summaries serve as excellent forces to help students recognize, organize and prioritize salient concepts and to explain them concisely. The key is to spend time actually teaching students the principles of summarizing.
- Summarizing also can offer practice in overcoming personal biases when interpreting an author’s work
An annotated bibliography can be taught by having students write 2-3 descriptive sentences for each text on a list (or the length of the descriptions can be greater) which describe
- What the text will teach the writer for a project
- What the text is about
- What the text shares with the other texts on the list
- Annotated bibliographies can show the patterns and connections that a writer has discovered among a group of texts. Identifying patterns is part of the critical thinking process.
- They can also help students understand a larger conversation at stake and how they can participate in the conversation.
- The annotated bibliography could then be used for a larger project. It functions as the first step in doing research.
A digital version of the annotated bibliography is the Carnival. As described in an article on blog carnivals by Ben Vershbow:
A blog carnival is like a roving journal, a rotating showcase of interesting writing from around the blogosphere within a particular discipline. Individual bloggers volunteer to host a carnival on their personal blog, acting as chief editor for that edition. It falls to them to collect noteworthy items, and to sort through suggestions from the community, many of which are direct submissions from authors. On the appointed date (carnivals generally keep to a regular schedule) the carnival gets published and the community is treated to a richly annotated feast of new writing in the field.
So a blog carnival assignment would ask students to research blogs, articles and other writing on the web pertinent to their project and then curate–to order, summarize, and introduce–their findings. Below are some examples: