I think I might be putting paper companies out of business as well as the sticky note companies with the use of laptops while we read. I use to have the kids write down sticky note questions while they were reading, and then when we were done with the text, they would pull out their questions from the book and never see them again.
Now I have them copy and paste the text into a Word document from an online so that they can manipulate the text, ask questions using the comment feature, highlight the text, and share their observations with others. I will eventually post an example from Macbeth when we finish Act 1. It is really cool! I am excited to see if this helps with their short term understanding, but I also feel the greater benefit will be in the long term when they can reference back to this text at the end of the semester and see all their notes, observations, and learning.
Another cool thing has been peer editing. I have done this before in class but this time I had the kids do this as a take home assignment where we established expectations ahead of time as to what makes a good editor. I will also post a sample of this when my students submit them to me. I assigned a comparative paper and the students exchanged papers via email or jump drives and then they took their peer's paper home to use Word's reviewing features. We debreifed on this process today at the beginning of class and it was great to hear their reactions. They liked the opportunity to see each other's work as well as see the connections their peers made that differed from theirs. What I also enjoyed is that the responsiblity fell to them to complete this task and put forth the best effort. They were excited to see the comments their editor had made.
Here is a sample of the online Macbeth annotated text done by a freshman.
Here is a sample of the peer editing completed by one freshman to another's paper.