Kaitlin Osterlund: Notes Reflection

With a play-text, I find that I am much more active in my inquiry and annotation than for a film. I also find that annotation for a play-text is more of a physical process for remembering and recalling information. I like to underline and circle lots of phrases and words when I am reading in order to use the physical act of writing as I read to better retain the text’s meaning. The things I underline or circle either have some relevance to the main purpose of the passage, or are parts that I did not fully understand and would need to research further to understand the passage’s true meaning. I tend to take more notes when reading than when viewing a film because I find it harder to focus on reading a passage than watching a film. By taking more notes when I read, I feel that I make up for this reduced focus and can better recall the meaning in what I had read. I believe more effort is required for the inquiry process to understand the underlying meaning of written passages, because so much of the meaning is left up to a reader’s imagination to interpret on their own.

With a film, I find that I am much more passive in my inquiry and annotation than for a play-text, and I also find that annotation for a film is much more of a visual process. I rarely take notes when watching a film, and often find that I distract myself from the film when I attempt to take notes. This distraction keeps me from involving myself in the interpretation of the plot, and I am not able to immerse myself in the meaning of the moving images on the screen. Even though I don’t write as many notes, I feel like I retain the same amount of information as I would from taking lots of notes from a play-text. I find that I can form pictures in my head from recalling scenes I had viewed when recalling information. I can remember the body language of the actors, the setting, their costumes, the tone of music, and most importantly how I was feeling and what emotions were emphasized in that scene. Watching film seems more immersing than reading, because both visual and auditory senses are active and so I recall more because more of my senses are focused on the inquiry of the film. This allows the annotation of a film to be a more passive process.

I measure the success of these methods of inquiry and annotation based on the amount of knowledge I am able to successfully retain. Success can also be further measured in how well I can present the knowledge I have gained, determining whether I fully understand the meaning of the knowledge I had remembered from either play-text or film.

Dale, Edgar. Cone of Learning. Digital image. Factlets – Spark Insight. Taxevity, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. http://sparkinsight.wdfiles.com/local–files/factlets/cone_of_learning.png

I often refer to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning (2016), which I had first come across in a second year ecology course I had taken. It states that after two weeks, only 10% of what is read is remembered and only 50% of what is viewed and heard from film is remembered. Both reading and viewing are passive methods of remembering information, yet viewing is located further down on the pyramid and is closer to an active process of remembering. Annotation can improve the amount of retained knowledge, and can be considered more of an active form of remembering information. Because reading a play-text retains less information over two weeks, I believe it is why I feel the need to write more notes to ensure I am successful in retaining the full understanding and meaning from the play-text. The opposite is true for viewing a film which retains more information over two weeks, and therefore I feel the need to write fewer notes to ensure I am successful in retaining the full understanding and meaning from the film.


Dale, Edgar. Cone of Learning. Digital image. Factlets – Spark Insight. Taxevity, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. http://sparkinsight.wdfiles.com/local–files/factlets/cone_of_learning.png

Samuel Martyn: Notes Reflection

My notes are awful. They are sparse and happen relatively infrequently. Particularly for reading a play or watching film. They are nondescript for the most part. If anyone aside from me was to look at my notes, they would not gain much, if anything at all.

Most of my annotation when it comes to going through the text of a play, does not consist of writing words between the lines or in the margins. I circle, highlight, and underline words or phrases of significance. I usually read the scene/passage out loud, and make these annotations during or after. This is so I can gauge the emotion, flow, and emphasis of the passage. The few words I write in are only to describe the emotion or tone of the speaker.


The reason for my style of note-taking (or lack thereof) is that once I read or hear the text a couple of times through, I can process it quite easily. I also find it more beneficial to return and re-read the entire passage to remember or understand the text than to try and interpret what the annotation I wrote in at a prior time means. Following a single story-line with the same characters throughout the text, I can very easily process and engage in what is happening without taking many notes.

This sentiment is even further experienced when I watch a film. I rarely take notes while watching film. By actively pairing the narrative with faces and voices, and literally having the text played out in front of my eyes, I almost immediately process and internalize what is happening. Film is my favourite medium (aside from music) for the sole fact that I can recall its information so quickly and accurately. The only time I will write down a note from a film is when there is a line that I want to remember, or a song on the soundtrack that I want to download at a later time.

The only other time in which I will write something down while watching a film or reading a play text, is when I want to be looking for categorical or symbolic representations within the medium. However, these will not be specific things I write down, it will be more like “watch for: lighting shifts, change in tone, music”, etc. I do this instead of in depth, specific notes, because I want to be engaged with the text medium itself, rather than try to keep up with both note taking and observation and then end up missing something significant within the text.

My notes are typically not successful in the sense that they should be. When I do annotations, I typically look back a few days later and have absolutely no idea what it means. When it comes to the final exam however, I do realize that this choice of extremely limited annotation may cause some issues for me. I take notes in my history classes, when there are not necessarily story lines or narratives, or consistent characters that make the material a linear, thematic text. Annotations done on my part do not help me comprehend English literature any better.

My notes may come across as “insufficient” to others or, it may seem as if I am not engaging in the text, but that could not be farther from the truth. Notes are just not how I find I can actively engage the text.

Marisol Calzada: Notes Reflection

Note taking for me has always been fairly difficult. In grade school I always struggled with finding a note taking style that worked for me; I remember using a different style of note taking every month along with different pens, highlighters, tabs, etc. Nothing seemed to work until I got into university. University courses made me realize that not only am I a visual learner, but I learn and remember best through repetition.

For me note taking had been very traditional, using a notebook and a pen; recently I started taking notes on my iPad Pro and it’s been working so well for me because I can split the screen between my note taking app and other resources I’m using. In this class I have found that my note taking has changed throughout the semester. At first I would write down everything that was on the powerpoint slides shown in class, and as the course progressed I learned how to decipher the notes and jot down the most important points presented.

Annotating on an iPad

Taking notes while reading a Shakespeare play-text is a little more challenging for me. I can’t read the text like I normally would a book and that frustrates me. I have to break the text down into sections – usually by the characters dialogue. After I break the text down, I read it “normally” the first time and then again a second time trying to understand the overall meaning of the passage. After I grasped the vague understanding of the passage, I like to paraphrase in regular English. Then I go line by line highlighting-underlining anything I believe is important to the passage. I start by mapping out the rhythm of the lines, and then I start circling ”hidden” things like alliterations, assonances, repetitions, etc. or other writing techniques Shakespeare has used. This type of reading takes me a long time because I feel like Shakespeare’s writing has a lot of hidden elements that require more than just imagination and literacy. By the time I am done with the passage, there are circles, lines, arrows, and writing all over it. For some it may seem like there is an excess of writing on it, but like I previously mentioned, I’m a visual learner and all the writing helps me keep my ideas and thoughts organized.

Taking notes on a film is a very different experience for me. Like most people, when I watch a movie I want to enjoy it rather than take notes on it; but on the occasion that I have to write annotations I start by reading a synopsis of the movie so I know what the general plot is about. When it comes to Shakespeare storylines in films, I like to understand how the characters are connected to each other; this helps to understand the plot. I tend to pay too much attention to the film and forget to write notes, so I make “mental notes” about scenes that I believe are important. The music in the movie helps me determine which scenes are more important than others because music guides our emotions. After I watch the movie and I have a good understanding of the plot, I can go back and find a specific scene and pause/rewind it if I need to analyze it a bit more.

If I ever need to compare a play-text and a film of the play, I always start by annotating the play-text first and then I will watch the movie. By annotating the play-text first, I am able to dissect the meaning of the texts while imagining the story line in my head. I believe that’s what helps me decipher the differences the director makes in the film because I have already created “a film” of my own in my head and if it doesn’t match up then the differences stick out to me.

I know my annotations have been successful if I can paraphrase the play-text/film to another person, or if I can have an in-depth discussion about the play-text/film. I believe more times out of none, my play-text annotations are more successful because I have the ability to reread and “marinate” my brain in the words that are right in front of me, which give me the liberty to go at my own pace. Film annotations are more difficult because the pace of the story-line is much faster and frequently pausing the film can take away from the experience the director intended his audience to have.

Kirsten Cordingley: Notes Reflection

When annotating a play-text, we are able to focus on a specific line, phrase, or word before heading to the next, while when taking notes for a film, we are writing about a moment that is already passing. That is, unless we choose to frequently pause the movie. In this way, note taking for texts and movies requires a break amidst the action, but I personally find that annotating texts is less jarring than pausing films to take notes.

While watching films for this class, I start with a focus on the characters. Since films interpret Shakespeare’s text differently, often the actors and actresses will not portray a Shakespearean character as I imagined them when reading the text. I will often open up a different tab on my laptop with the cast list, so that I know who’s who in the film, which is especially helpful if I’m not very familiar with the text. As the plot unfolds, I will make character charts to show how people relate to each other. For example, drawing arrows and hearts to indicate who is in love and who is related.


I note differences in the film in relation to the text, and often have the play opened, whether in book form or online, while watching. Considering what the director changes or highlights helps to understand the message or moments they try to emphasize. For example, in Throne of Blood there is only one witch character, rather than the three Weird Sisters that are in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. However, while I do take note of Shakespeare’s text when watching films adapted from his plays, I also stay aware that these films are fullsizerender-2an independent and unique creation. I pay attention to camera angles, editing, music, and acting. While doing my film review, I made notes along the way regarding anything that stuck out to me regarding these elements. For example, I took note of the music and animation choices used with the character Prospero in Taymor’s The Tempest.

When annotating play-texts, I find it helpful to summarize the footnotes in the margins beside the word or lines it applies to. This way I can reread the lines without having to look down at the footnotes. I underline things that stand out to me as important, and put question marks beside things that I don’t fully understand, often to bring them up to a classmate or professor later on. I also put a star beside passages or lines if I believe them to be significant in meaning, or applicable to a particular argument or analysis I am forming in an assignment or essay. I add notes in the margins to summarize events or explain things like symbolism. If I am close reading a passage for a paper, I will go through the passage after having read it a few times already and count the syllables in each line to see whether there is any significance in the line length. For example, in my close reading paper of the Chorus that opens Act 4 in Henry V, I noticed that Shakespeare strays from iambic pentameter in a particular line, which helped me to note his emphasis on a certain point. Similarly, I will go through and look at the ends of each line for any sort of rhyming, because often words are rhymed to point the readers attention to a particular detail.


The main problem I have when watching a film or reading a text for class is getting too engrossed in the story and forgetting to annotate or make notes. In this case, to ensure that I am successful with helping myself with assignments, or future exams, I have to go back and slowly read or watch while annotating. I heavily connect how well I comprehend the text or movie to how successful my annotating and note taking were. If I have a well-formed discussion about the movie or play, or write a well-formed paper, then I know I have succeeded in taking concise and helpful notes. Whereas, if I feel I did not understand the text or movie, or have trouble picking out any meaning, I know I have to go back and annotate and note take more, paying attention to things that I didn’t the first time.

Matthew Moghadam: Notes Reflection

        The annotation process of film can be quite a drab and tiresome predicament for some. While this process is advantageous to place an emphasis on analysis rather than mere observation of a work, it can still be dull and monotonous. Nevertheless, often it is also a necessity to uncover underlying meanings, unique interpretations, or even one’s own perspectives on a particular matter. In my own consideration, the success of such note-taking varies entirely on the media that is examined, for while my practice of annotation for play-texts emerges quickly and almost entirely, film analysis is a much more lengthy and complicated exercise.

        In most cases, I prefer the annotation of play texts as each can be reread, further analyzed, and considered multiple times in a short period. In terms of textual analyses of plays, I feel as if my own perception of ideas within the text are more thorough as their significance is clarified almost immediately and elaborated soon after. In the examination of a play text, I find it easiest and most efficient to read the text aloud, thus grasping a fuller understanding of the meaning behind each word used – particularly in the case of complicated language, such as that of Shakespeare. This not only provides the overt tone of the piece through the development of emotion, but entices my full focus on the material at hand instead of inciting distractions. Play-text Note-takingA play-text analysis also allows me to visually examine the content, rather than the relying on the necessity to view an interpretation while also listening to a passage. Such an appreciation of this is evident upon a simple examination of my texts, as they typically resemble overused and well-loved cookbooks, with explanations, highlights, interpretations, and connections. This practice provides me opportunities to recognize consistent themes, word usage, recurring expressions, and other textual elements. As a visual learner, each method of analysis is imperative to my understanding and development of meaning within a play-text, for it focuses not on an optical spectacle but rather a corporeal verse.

        In terms of film analyses, my annotation process changes completely. I truly find it rather difficult to analyze critically as the film progresses, as I am drawn to the cinematic performance instead. I constantly find myself lost in the plot, and reminders to focus on the primary purpose of the examination are abound. However, with a degree of reprimand and a potential second-screening, my notebooks are better-filled with ideas, comments, and a number of questions. Even so, I often find it troublesome to elucidate on particular practices or ideas within the film due to its fleeting nature, rather than material state. As such, the approach that works best for me is to annotate simple ideas while watching and supplement them later. I aim to capture very rough conjectures that continuously surface, such as a particular mood or typical shot type, and further augment such theories following the screening. I am sure this is common practice for many, and certainly understand why this would be the case. Rather than detracting from the piece in the constant pursuit of a fully-developed concept before the end credits roll, it allows one to both participate in and analyze the screening simultaneously. However, in my case, I feel as if much of the annotation seems quite basic and trivial in terms of meaning, particularly if ideas are lost or forgotten in a film’s deliberation. While aspects such as colour, framing, typicalities of shots, or score are certainly of great import to a piece, much of these evaluations feel hollow in comparison to their profound counterparts. I consistently aim to develop postulations abounding in complexities and in-depth considerations, and though it takes a great deal of mulling and contemplation, ideas that appear to me as shallow or basic do gradually dissipate to uncover stronger understandings and conclusions. 

        While each may have their strong suits when examined critically, I believe their success cannot be determined entirely by quantity, but rather the quality of interpretation that is established. Both the annotation of play-texts and film allow for a deep exploration of literary concepts, although each process is completely unique in itself. My preference may lie with the medium of text-plays due to their intrinsically accommodating nature, but the analysis of film certainly has its merits as well. Regardless of the method that is undertaken in terms of inquiry, providing a comprehensive analysis is the primary purpose of each, and both may provide additional postulations to captivate and delight audiences.

Reilly Kruger: Notes Reflection

    The transformations that I have made in my annotation practices have changed drastically since I’ve been in university. Note taking in university involves neat and tidy writing that is 100% legible, the notes must also be relevant and concise. On the contrary, my note taking practices while in high school were illiterate scribbles that were lengthy and ill formatted. As I have grown in university so has the quality of my notes and annotations. Now that I am in university I need to understand all of the thought processes that I took while I was taking notes and I need to learn from what I have written. This results in notes that are pretty, detailed, and usually short. However, the extent to which my notes and annotations go in-depth depends greatly on what type of material I am analyzing, whether it be textbooks, play texts, or films.

    While I was in high school my note taking was limited and artificial, I truly felt like the things that I was learning were not relevant to me and thus of no use in the future. I was extremely good at scribbling and doodling, come to think of it, I still am!

Irrelevant notes but they are messy and full of doodles.

Irrelevant notes, they are messy and full of doodles.

Most of what I wrote down in regards to play-texts was lengthy and therefore by the end of reading it I had lost track of what the key element was that I needed internalize. When I attempted to annotate a film in high school I usually had some details about the beginning then less and less as the film went on and by the end of the film I had absolutely nothing written down. I had never been taught what exactly I was expected to be looking for when I watched a film, therefore my annotations were exceedingly brief. This type of note taking and annotations are exactly what not to do if you have any intention of learning from them.

    Since I have graduated and transitioned into university my skill and attention to detail has grown immensely. When I am taking notes on a play-text, say for an english class, my notes are written all over the pages. I’ve never been concerned about defacing a piece of literature. I bought it therefore I’ll treat it however I like. My notes and annotation of anything on paper is very detailed. It is easy for me to explore every nook and cranny, write all over the paper, circle things, and color code. I have developed a keen eye in regards to the details and linguistic elements that I need to seek out when reading a source. Making annotations of play-texts, textbooks, and novels is second nature for me.

Annotation of Shakespeare, my university level of annotating.

Annotation of Shakespeare, my university level of annotating.

However when it comes to annotating films I find it extremely difficult. I would rather watch the film and enjoy it as opposed to analyze it. Although, with help from texts such as Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide by Samuel Crowl I have managed to hone in my ability to annotate films, even if that means I have to re-watch a scene ten times before I am able to see all the details and choices that went into making that specific scene! The more practice I have annotating play-texts and films the better my eyes seems to be at catching all the literary elements and underlying themes.

    There are an assortment of helpful sources I have used in order to improve my annotation skills. I have talked to friends and we have come up with different strategies, I used some of the resources that the university provides, such as the online seminars through the Student Success Center, and I have also improved my handwriting, (seems simple but it makes a huge difference when you can read what you’ve written). I feel my notes are successful when I have a lot of them, to me that feels as if I have explored every aspect of a play-text or a film. The more details I have written down the better I understood the source!