How to Use the myShakespeare Notebook Feature

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May 8, 2024
How to Use the myShakespeare Notebook Feature
Jamie Litton

Did you know myShakespeare has a built-in digital notebook and annotation tool? This resource is available to anyone with an account and allows users to highlight, color-code, tag, and sort their notes as they work through the play. Additionally, teachers who create a classroom can view their students' notebooks and sort through their work. Annotating supports comprehension by helping students make connections as they develop literary analysis skills, as opposed to highlighting alone which research has shown is too passive to have a real effect on learning. According to an article in Edutopia, "If students aren't interacting with the text, they're not going to achieve the deeper understanding they need to think critically about what they're learning." This tool not only unlocks a higher level of learning, but also creates endless opportunities for assignments that incorporate highlighting, annotating, and categorizing throughout the plays. Here, we will walk you through some of the basic functions of the notebook and offer a couple of assignment ideas so you and your students can take advantage of this versatile tool.


Viewing Your Notebook

After logging in, navigate to a scene and click "Notebook" on the top of the page in the scene menu.

This will take you to your notebook where you can sort through all your work. This includes multiple choice and written quiz answers, annotations, and Reading Comprehension Quiz scores.

You can sort by play, act, scene, and completion status. You can also filter your annotations by custom tags and highlight colors. 

Creating Annotations

To create and save an annotation, use your mouse to click and drag over the lines you want to highlight and click the red pop-up bubble. 

From here, you can select a highlight color, create a tag, add notes, and save the annotation to your notebook.

Return to your notebook to view your annotations by filtering for “Task Type”, play, act, scene, highlight color, or tags. Click on the “+” next to your annotation to see a detailed view.

Viewing Student Notebook Entries

After creating a classroom and adding students by sharing your classroom code, teachers can view all student quiz responses and annotations in their notebooks. Check out our blog post “How to Create a myShakespeare Classroom” for detailed instructions on creating a classroom and adding your students.

To view student quiz answers and annotations, navigate to your account page and click on the classroom you want to view. 

On the classroom page, scroll down to view your student roster and click “View Notebook” next to the student name you would like to view.

Once in the student’s notebook, you can sort by task type to view quiz responses or annotations.

To expand annotations, click the red “+” on the far right-hand side of the entry.

Ideas for Classroom Use

Now, for the fun part! Here are a couple of ideas for getting the most out of our Notebook feature.


Create a Character Journal

  • Ask students to choose a character in the play and create a detailed character journal using the Notebook feature. They should start by highlighting the first time the character speaks or is mentioned and tagging that highlight with the character’s name. 
  • As they work through the play, ask your students to highlight, tag, and annotate every time they notice their character displaying a defining personality trait, revealing their motivation, engaging in a significant relationship dynamic, or experiencing some kind of character development. 
  • Set a minimum amount of annotations required to complete the assignment and establish expectations for how long each annotation should be. 
  • When students have finished working through the play, they can filter their notebook entries using their character tags and export their completed character journals. 
  • Invite students to share their character journals with their peers and provide feedback. 
  • Assessment should look for depth of analysis, understanding of characterization, engagement with the text, and a clear understanding of the significance and nuance of their chosen character. 


Track the Development of a Theme

  • After a class discussion that establishes some of the primary themes of the play you are working on (such as the themes of youth, violence, or romantic love in Romeo and Juliet), ask students to choose one theme to focus on throughout the play. 
  • As they work through the play, students highlight and annotate moments connected to their chosen theme. Annotations should explain how the highlighted lines establish or build upon the theme. 
  • Another option is to have students track the development of several themes simultaneously, using multiple highlight colors to differentiate their annotations.
  • When students finish working through the play, they can filter their notebook entries using their highlight colors and export their completed theme analysis. 
  • Invite students to share their theme analysis with their peers and provide feedback.
  • Assessment should look for detailed observations, thoughtful analysis, and an understanding of how themes operate in the play to convey larger messages and ideas.

Have your own ideas about how to use the notebook feature? Send us an email at, we'd love to hear from you!