Recognize Footnotes

Writing

Recognize Footnotes

Posted on January 29, 2009

Recognize Footnotes

Footnotes ButtonDon't assume students know what a footnote is. Struggling readers may wonder why there is an asterisk or a tiny little number after a word, but they often don't ask what it's for. Many may also not realize that it indicates a simpler synonym, definition, or explanation will be found at the bottom of the page.

Click here for a footnote example from Sharon Creech's book, Heartbeat.

To help students understand how to use footnotes, start by teaching them to write their own. Within their next writing, ask students to find their two best words. Have them put a tiny "1" after the first word and a tiny "2" after the second. At the bottom of the piece, ask each student to then write the same 1 and 2 with a synonym or simple definition for that bigger, better word. The idea is that if students can write a footnote, they understand its purpose and thus can read a footnote.