Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

Best Applications For Annotating Websites


'Yellow Annotation' photo (c) 2010, Morten Oddvik - license:

I’m always on the look-out for web tools that can mimc a key instructional strategy I use with students in the classroom — having them use post-it notes to annotate books or articles so they can demonstrate their use of reading strategies (asking questions, making connections, etc.).

I thought it would a good subject for another “The Best…” list.

In order to make this list, it had to be available free-of-charge, be accessible to English Language Learners, and not require any downloads of any kind.

Here are my choices for The Best Applications For Annotating Websites (not in order of preference):

A.nnotate is the newest addition to this list.  Instead of describing A.nnotate in detail here, though, I’m going to suggest you read a very thorough description of it — with screenshots — at The Make Use Of blog.

Rooh It! is the newest addition to this list.  Since the Make Use of blog has written a good post describing it, I’m going to encourage you to read their explanation. One new change, though, is that you now have to register in order to use it.

I’d like to highlight a couple of great features, though. One, you don’t have to register for it. And, two, all you have to do is put “” before any web URL address and you can start highlighting and leaving notes about it.

The only negative I see is that it looks a little “busy” — English Language Learners could be a bit confused by all the initial options and text. But a short teacher explanation should take care of that.

Good News, Bad News & Good News On Website Annotation Tools

Could “Microsoft Edge” Be The Magic Bullet For Annotating Websites?

Bounce was off-line for awhile, but is back and works very well.

“Actively Learn” Looks Like A New Tool My Students Will Be Using A Lot

Back to School with Annotation: 10 Ways to Annotate with Students is by Jeremy Dean.

Skills and Strategies | Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create is a great new resource from The New York Times Learning Network.

“Annotation Studio” Looks Like A Nice Tool For Online…Annotation

eMargin is a free tool developed by Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom. You can upload any text and have students annotate it, and the same text can be annotated by a closed group. In addition, you can “upload” a web address and annotate it, as well. The lay-out can be a bit funky with websites, but it’s still workable.

NowComment seems like a good tool for students to use when annotating online documents and they can see the comments of others, too (teachers can create private groups).  The  only way you can annotate a website is by copying and pasting it, and I’m not sure if that’s legal or not.

Diigo is a superior  bookmarking tool (I use both diigo and delicous to back-up all of mine). My grip against diigo has been its requirement for a downloaded bookmarklet in order to annotate saved webpages. Recently, however, you can now annotate saved webpages without installing anything — you can highlight, make comments and share them.  It’s a great development.

Edji lets you upload any text and have readers annotate it with comments. You can make all the comments public to readers, or keep them private.

Prism also lets you just annotate text to upload, but in a very dynamic way.  Here’s a video describing it:

“Annotator Tool” Is A Good…Tool For Online Annotation

You can annotate any webpage with Genius:

Put in front of any URL to annotate and read other Genius annotations on any page on the Internet. You don’t need to download anything!

It’s super-easy, but I have previously written about problems with Genius – see Rap Genius Expands Service, Changes Name, Adds Education Features – I’d Still Be Surprised If Teachers Use It.

I learned about this annotation tool from 8 Ways to Annotate Readings, Websites and Online Articles with Examples by Shelly Terrell.

Using Crowd Annotation to Close-Read the World is from Middleweb.

Edji looks like a very cool tool for annotating online text. Students can use various tools, including leaving audio comments.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


    • Russ,

      The last time I looked, you have to download a bookmarklet. Is that
      still the case? If it is, most schools won’t allow it….


      • That is the case. I haven’t come across anyone who said that would be a problem in the few sessions I’ve led on setting up Diigo with educators. Not saying it’s not a concern, but — and this is just my personality — if they don’t allow bookmarklets, it would be a great teachable moment for the teacher to go to the adminstrators and work to get it allowed. Diigo even has teacher accounts so you can sign up your students without providing email addresses for those of us working with kids under 13.

        Just a thought. Thanks for sharing all the resources that you find!


  1. Thanks for mentioning Webklipper, Larry.
    Your concerns w.r.t to anyone deleting your comments is not 100% invalid. That is how the app works today. The assumption is these URL’s are not “findable” i.e the only way to reach them is via the URL that Webklipper generated for you. If you have shared it with your friends, they can of course add-to/modify or remove your comments.

    The core idea behind Webklipper is to be able to collaborate on the wepage. You get to see what everyone else is doing on your page!

    Moreover, I have added an experimental feature called “page-versions”. You might find it interesting. Its there in the Webklipper-Blue-Bar.

    Keep the feedback coming.
    Thanks a lot again for the mention even before the launch.


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  3. I use Diigo for social bookmarking; recently they have made a lot of updates. With Diigo you can now share your bookmarks and highlighters and sticky notes with friends and groups. If you have not used it in a while, you will be surprised.

  4. What about icyte Larry? Is that a tool that would fit into this list? I am just starting to use it with my class and it seems handy in helping to see how my students are researching online. I like how you can also share your work.

    • Carl,

      I have it on my “Best” list for creating Webquests, but haven’t thought about it for other uses. I’ll check it out again, thanks.


    • Carl,

      Oops, I confused icyte with a similarly named app. I remember now why I didn’t include it on this list — in order to get a free account, you have to register with an official education related account, and that’s not possible for many students.


  5. Ah, luckily my students have an education related account. They may need to think of a way around that similar to wikispaces in giving free spaces for education. I will email them now 🙂

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  8. I have been working on my own little project written in nodejs that allows you to take screenshots of websites and comment on ’em. The website is and still in beta. Feedback is welcomed.

  9. Hi Larry! Similarly always looking for an annotation tool, especially which students may also use for research purposes-hard to find something that works collaboratively, allows for organizing annotations and offers a clean interface. In the awesome article you shared from the NYTimes Learning Network, the author highlights, which I’m seems to have huge potential.

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