Reading Without Limits

Maddie Witter

Gloss Notes: A Scaffold for Nonfiction Texts

 Reading Without LimitsSometimes, you might need to share a text with all students in your class.  But that text might be too difficult for some of your kids.  In fact, it might even be on their frustration level.  As I share in Reading Without Limits, it’s important to limit the amount of frustration level texts that we use in class, and if we do use them, they need to be scaffolded.  Gloss notes are one way you can scaffold difficult texts and this teaching tool is a great way to scaffold textbooks.  For content teachers who want to try incorporating more literacy strategies in their classes, gloss notes are a great first step.


Copy a page from the text that you want students to read.  In the margin, write assisted notes that include definitions for difficult vocabulary.  Break down complicated concepts more concretely, and rewrite important sentences using simple syntax.  Basically, you are making the text more readable in the margins.


Gloss Notes

Gloss notes can include

– Reminders like “Slow down this part is important!”

– Vocabulary clarification

– Added schema

– Questions


Avoid introducing more than four per page- otherwise, you are making a frustrating text even more frustrating with too many notes!

Check out the Uncommon Corps for more nonfiction resources.

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