Engage Online Spanish Students in 10 Ways with Annotation

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

What is annotation?


If you don’t know annotation means, neither did I. But it is the best thing to happen to language classes that I have ever experienced. It`s like the whiteboard in a physical classroom. Kids get ahold of your whiteboard markers and they feel invincible. Well, that is what annotation does to online students.


Annotation means that you can write over top of an existing file, or in this case, of the screen. It can be a webpage, PDF, Google Slides, document, newspaper, worksheet, literally anything you can show on your computer screen. In other words, it gives them a way to interact with the materials on the screen.


How Spanish Learners Benefit


For my students, it leads to better listening comprehension, because I ask them to take notes on what they learn from their partners. If they cannot write it, they naturally ask their partners to repeat it. This overcomes a huge hurdle in language learning in itself.


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Control Options on Zoom


So, when you are screen sharing, you can enable or disable the annotation option. Or you can have them annotate anonymously where no names are attached. The other option is to have their names attached to what they’re writing (This is especially helpful when someone is not following directions or attempts to write something inappropriate). Either way, I love the annotation feature! It is always enabled in my group classes.


How to Use Annotation with Spanish Students

Here are 10 activities to try in Spanish classes with the Zoom annotation tool:

  1. Ask younger students to use the stamp buttons to mark materials with a check or a heart as a way of participating (i.e. asking for help, communicating likes or dislikes, or recognizing dictated words/phrases).

  2. Share the whiteboard, divide it into parts for each student or team, and have a virtual spelling bee.

  3. An old classic: play Pictionary. Have one student draw one of the vocabulary words, or whatever you’re working on, and have the other students guess what it is.

  4. Worksheets! Put up any worksheet on your shared screen and students can fill it in from their end.

  5. Coloring pages can be shared and students can color from the other end of the zoom video call.

  6. Play Jeopardy and give each student their own area on the whiteboard to write their answers. Have then keep track of their own points also to practice math.

  7. Fill in templates are probably one of my favorite things to use in online classes. I use them to create communicative activities where one student has to give information to another student. And the other student has to fill out the template with the information correctly.

  8. Any graphic organizer, such as a Venn diagram, compare/contrast, problem/solution, storyboard, can be displayed on the screen and completed by students.

  9. Have students highlight or circle the words in a seek and find.

  10. Spot the differences activities. Students can circle the differences, just like they would in real life, using the annotation tool.



Remember that in the breakout rooms, students can work in partners or small groups, and somebody can share their screen, enabling the other students to be able to annotate. It doesn’t have to be the teacher or the meeting host that shares their screen to enable annotation.


Another important point is that there are minimum requirements for your system to be able to share your screen and have the other students annotate on top of it. If you have a Chromebook or a tablet and you share screen they won’t have the ability.


But if you share your screen from a computer and students have a touchscreen a tablet, they will be able to use a stylus or their fingers to draw. I find is much more helpful for younger students and those who aren’t comfortable with the mouse and keyboard. Plus even for me it is ridiculously hard to draw with my mouse.


Do you know another way to use annotation in class for more engagement and participation? Comment below!



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