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When using a digital camera, especially the likes of a modern DSLR or mirrorless body, you will generally find different settings on a rotating dial somewhere at the top of the unit. Depending on the manufacturer, the markings for those different settings may vary.

All these different settings tell the camera what exposure settings it should prioritize to help you compose the best photograph, and we’ll provide a bit more clarity regarding what these settings mean in today’s piece.

The different shooting modes

Some of the different shooting modes you might find on a digital camera are:

Auto mode (generally green with an A or Auto indicator)

Program mode (generally white with a P indicator)

Aperture priority mode (generally white with an A or Av indicator)

Shutter priority mode (generally white with an S or Tv indicator)

Flexible priority mode (generally white with an Fv indicator)

Manual mode (generally white with an M indicator)

As you might come to expect, each shooting mode provides benefits that may improve your photography experience in certain conditions. Understanding how these modes work and when you should use them is vital if you want your photographs to turn out the best they can.

And one more thing… don’t buy into the elitist fallacy that professional photographers only shoot in manual mode. That’s complete hogwash.

Below, we’ll walk you through how the different shooting modes outlined above differ from one another.

Explaining the differences Auto mode

The first shooting mode you might feel inclined to use when you’re new to photography is auto mode, generally denoted by a green A or Auto on the camera’s shooting mode dial. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of letting your camera make all the best decisions for you so that you don’t have to worry about the guesswork involved with how to properly expose your photograph? Well… we’ll get to that…

Auto mode, as the name implies, automatically selects the best exposure settings for your camera to produce what it thinks will be the highest-quality image for your current surroundings. This means that it manages your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO without any input on your end to produce a properly exposed image.

Sounds great, right? Although auto mode takes the guesswork out of calibrating exposure settings yourself, you lose some of the granular control of creatively pumping up your shutter speed or fiddling with the aperture yourself. You’ll find that auto mode activates the camera’s built-in flash (if applicable) in low-light environments even when you may not want to use it, which can ruin certain photographs when you’re trying to use low light in creative ways.

Another con of auto mode is that there’s no way for you to override any of your camera’s exposure settings as long as you’re in this mode. That’s because the camera is in full control of your exposure; think of it as full autopilot.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use auto mode at all. It’s obviously a starting point for beginner photographers, but it may also be useful for professional photographers when there isn’t enough time to calibrate a camera’s exposure settings before a photograph opportunity presents itself.

Auto mode works best in daylight situations since you typically don’t want to use your camera’s built-in flash. Furthermore, it works best in settings where your subject isn’t moving too quickly since the camera dials in exposure settings based on your surrounding light and not by the speed of objects you wish to photograph.

For the most part, you will get the best photographs from dialing your camera’s exposure settings in yourself, but knowing how to do this comes with experience and patience. There’s no shame in using auto mode if you aren’t sure how to use the other shooting modes yet, but hopefully today’s piece will give you more insight about those other modes and when you should use them.

Program mode

A camera’s program mode, often denoted by a P on the shooting mode dial, is like auto mode except for one major distinction: it’s possible to override the camera’s automatic exposure settings when using this mode.

Just like auto mode, program mode automatically selects what your camera thinks will be the best aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings for composing your photograph. However, if you don’t like something about the exposure for any reason, you can freely and quickly change one or more of those elements on the fly. You can think of this mode as assisted autopilot instead of full autopilot.

Both amateur and professional photographers use program mode, but beginners are more likely to use this feature because it’s a more approachable way to tinker with a camera’s exposure settings when you aren’t used to doing it full-time.

Program mode is a great way for beginners to loosen their training wheels when weening themselves off auto mode, and in terms of professional photography, it lends a lot of convenience for opportunistic moments when there isn’t always enough time to dial exposure settings manually while still maintaining the flexibility of manual adjustments where and when necessary.

Aperture priority mode

Aperture priority mode is probably my favorite and most-used shooting mode, and it may be denoted as an A or Av on your camera’s shooting mode dial. Not to be confused with auto mode, which generally appears green on the dial, the A or Av for aperture priority mode is generally displayed on the dial in a white font color.

You can think of aperture priority mode as a hybrid auto and manual shooting mode. That’s because while aperture priority mode lets you set a preferred aperture setting manually, your camera then compensates for exposure by setting the shutter speed automatically to ensure a properly exposed photograph.

As for ISO, you can manually change the ISO setting in aperture priority mode too, and while your manual aperture setting will stay the same after changing the ISO, you will notice that your camera adjusts the shutter speed as you change the ISO setting just like it does when you change the aperture setting.

If you’re a beginner photographer and you’re ready to make the leap from full auto mode or program mode to something a bit more hands-on without going full manual, then aperture priority mode is a great place to start. You will get the opportunity to fully control at least two of the three elements of exposure, while the camera helps you choose the third automatically.

I find that aperture priority mode works great for almost every form of photography, and I probably use it 90% of the time. The only time I tend to switch out of aperture priority mode is when I need to manually adjust my shutter speed for a longer exposure shot, which we’ll discuss later.

Shutter priority mode

Shutter priority mode is another setting you will find on your camera, generally denoted as an S or Tv on the shooting mode dial. And we know what you’re thinking… why Tv? That’s because some camera manufactures call this shutter priority mode, and others call it time value mode. I’m used to calling this shutter priority mode, so that’s what I’ll refer to it as for the duration of this piece.

Just like the aperture priority mode discussed above, shutter priority mode is a hybrid auto and manual shooting mode. In this setting, you can manually set a camera’s shutter speed and it then compensates for exposure by automatically adjusting the aperture value to ensure a properly exposed photograph.

ISO can also be changed manually in shutter priority mode, and as you’d come to expect, doing this will affect the camera’s aperture selection. Changing the ISO while in shutter priority mode will not affect your shutter speed since you’re setting that manually as well.

Beginner photographers rarely, if ever, touch this mode, but it’s common to see professional photographers using it to capture longer exposure photographs. It can be used to get those beautiful silky-smooth photographs of waterfalls in nature or the amazing light streaks from passerby cars on a nighttime city street.

I don’t use shutter priority mode very often, but it has its uses. It’s generally ideal for adding discernible motion blur to photographs when it makes sense, such as in the use cases mentioned above.

Flexible priority mode

Flexible priority mode is a setting found only on Canon-branded cameras that will generally be denoted as Fv on the shooting mode dial. It’s a generally new setting introduced in just the past few years that allows users to tell the camera which exposure element they want to focus on the most, while having the flexibility to quickly change to a different element on the fly without switching shooting modes.

The best way we can describe flexible priority mode is by saying it’s aperture and shutter priority mode all in one shooting mode. In this scenario, it’s faster to choose which settings are right for you in any photography situation, which helps you be more ready for any photograph opportunity that may come your way.

Depending on which setting you choose to change manually while in flexible priority mode, the camera decides the remaining settings automatically. For example, if you tell the camera that you want to manually control the aperture, then it automatically sets the shutter speed, and vice-versa.

There’s not much else to say here…

Manual mode

And finally, we come to manual mode… the cream of the crop for professional photographers who like to be in full control of their camera’s settings… or so they say. Manual mode is generally denoted as an M on your camera’s shooting mode dial.

In manual mode, you can set all three of your camera’s individual exposure settings yourself without your camera doing any automatic value figuring. You’re effectively on your own with this mode, which means you can think of it like a car without cruise control; there’s no autopilot to speak of here.

When you decide to make the jump to manual mode, you can change the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO values all independently of one another and then take a photograph. This is one of the best ways to get creative since your camera isn’t figuring exposure automatically, and this means you can purposely (or accidentally) over or under-expose photographs.

I rarely shoot in full manual mode myself, but I dabble with it from time to time. It’s a learning curve when you’re accustomed to letting your camera choose settings for you, but that’s precisely the reason why you should strive to try it out. Manual mode helps teach you how to make the best of your camera’s manual settings, and in doing so, you learn more about how they work and can make better photography decisions.

Manual mode works great in all kinds of situations, but it really lags behind if you’re in a fast-paced shooting environment and don’t have the time to dial in manual settings. With that in mind, even some professional photographers don’t bother with manual mode most of the time, and it’s easy to understand why. Photo opportunities don’t last forever… blink and you might miss it.

Wrapping up

That just about concludes our piece explaining some of the most popular shooting modes on modern DSLR and mirrorless camera bodies. As we discussed, some of the modes are full auto, some are semi-auto, and others are flat-out manual. Additionally, ever mode has its use depending on the situation, so don’t discount one setting over another just because some snobby ‘pro’ photographer belittled you into using manual mode.

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Body Type Diet: The Ultimate Guide


If you’re an ectomorph, you might wonder about the ideal diet for your body type. Ectomorphs have a thin body type and find it difficult to gain weight. They also have a fast metabolism, which makes it even more difficult to retain an ideal body weight.

There are a few things that ectomorphs should keep in mind when choosing a diet. First, ectomorphs need to make sure they’re eating enough calories. It’s easy for ectomorphs to undereat, which can lead to health problems down the road. Second, ectomorphs should focus on getting plenty of protein. Protein is essential for muscle growth, and ectomorphs need to pack on muscle mass with any possible means to achieve an ideal shape. Last but not least, ectomorphs should snack often. Since they have such high metabolisms, they need to eat more frequently than other body types in order to keep their energy levels up.

The bottom line is that there’s no “perfect” diet for ectomorphs. However, by following these guidelines, you can create a diet that will help you reach your goals and stay healthy at the same time.


A mesomorph is an ectomorph with more muscle and less fat. A muscular build, broad shoulders, and a narrow waist characterize them. Mesomorphs are the body type most likely to be successful in bodybuilding.

Mesomorphs tend to have an easy time gaining and losing weight. They can put on muscle quickly, but they must be careful not to overdo it, as they can also put on fat easily. Mesomorphs should focus on moderate-intensity exercises and eat a balanced diet.

If you’re a mesomorph, you’re lucky — you have the ideal body type for bodybuilding. You have all the ingredients for success with your naturally muscular build and broad shoulders. But even though you may have an easier time than other body types when packing on muscle, you still need to be careful not to overdo it. You can easily put on too much fat if you’re not careful.

The key for mesomorphs is to find the right balance between exercise and diet. You need to exercise enough to stimulate muscle growth but not so much that you end up burning off all your hard-earned muscle. And while you may be able to get away with eating more calories than other body types, you still need to make sure that most of those calories are coming from healthy sources. A diet that’s too high in fat or sugar will sabotage your efforts in


If you’re an endomorph, you tend to have a higher body fat percentage and a larger build, and you might find it harder to lose weight and may struggle with cravings. While endomorphs can still enjoy a healthy diet, they need to keep certain things in mind.

Here are some tips for eating if you’re an endomorph

Limit your intake of simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. Simple carbs can lead to weight gain, so eating complex carbs like whole grains is best.

Increase your protein intake, which helps you feel fuller and longer and can help boost your metabolism. Lean meats, fish, tofu, and legumes can be promising to meet your protein requirement.

Watch your portion sizes. Endomorphs tend to gain weight easily, so it’s important to be mindful of how much you eat. Try using a smaller plate or bowl to help control portions.

Make sure to get enough exercise. Exercise helps boost metabolism and can help burn more calories throughout the day. If you have an Endomorphs body, you need moderate-intensity exercise for at least thirty minutes daily.

How to Determine Your Body Type

There are different ways to determine your body type; the most accurate way would be to consult a professional. However, there are also some DIY methods that you can use to get an idea of your body type.

One way to determine your body type is by looking at yourself in the mirror. Take a close look at your overall shape and size. Are you more round or more straight? Do you have a lot of curves, or are you more straight up and down? This can give you a good idea of which category you fall into.

Another way to determine your body type is by taking measurements of your waist, hips, and bust. Again, this will help you to figure out which category you fall into. Here are the general guidelines −

If your waist is larger than your hips and bust, you are pear-shaped.

If your hips are larger than your waist and bust, you are apple-shaped.

If your bust is larger than your waist and hips, you are hourglass-shaped.

The Best Diet for Your Body Type

If you’re anything like the average person, you’ve probably wondered at some point what the best diet for your body type is. And with all of the different diets, it could be difficult for a newbie to know where to start.

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. In this section, we’ll take a look at the different body types and what kind of diet is best for each one. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Exercise for Your Body Type

If you want to maximize your workout results, it’s important to tailor it to your body type. Find out your type and how to work out for your body type below.


Ectomorphs are typically thin and have trouble gaining weight, and they may have a high metabolism and find it hard to put on muscle. When working out, ectomorphs should do more compound exercises to work on multiple muscle groups at once. They should also focus on gradually increasing their weight to avoid injury.


Endomorphs are typically larger-boned and have more body fat than ectomorphs. They may find it difficult to lose weight, even with diet and exercise. When working out, endomorphs should focus on HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts that help them burn fat. They should also focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once.


Mesomorphs are in-between ectomorphs and endomorphs. They tend to be naturally muscular with a medium build. When working out, mesomorphs can benefit from both HIIT workouts and weightlifting workouts. They should mix up their routine to avoid plateauing.


We hope this guide to the body type diet has been helpful in introducing you to a new way of thinking about your health and nutrition. By taking into account your physical characteristics, lifestyle, and goals, the body type diet can be an effective tool for creating a sustainable healthy eating plan that works with your unique needs. It is important to remember that everyone’s journey will look different when it comes to finding success with their diets, so don’t get discouraged! Developing good habits takes time, but by following our tips and tricks, you can achieve great results in no time.

The Affect Of Machine Learning Dataops On Different Sectors

Learn how ML DataOps has an impact on many sectors around the world

Over the past decade, commercial machine learning (ML), applications have evolved from conception to testing to deployment. As the industry progresses through the cycle of artificial intelligence (AI), the need for efficient, scalable operations has resulted in the creation of maps. It is therefore important to fully understand ML DataOps and its impact on various sectors.

What is ML DataOps?

ML heavily relies on data collection, analysis, and creation. The AI ecosystem has seen a shift to a data-centric approach over the last year. This is in contrast to the model-centric approach. Data is the most important factor in ensuring the success of ML models in the real world.

ML DataOps, an ML-based data management system, is now in the spotlight. It allows us to manage large amounts of data as it flows through the cyclical journey that is AI training and deployment. This is crucial to ensure the sustainability of the resulting AI solutions. There is also a need to transition from production to testing, which must be done through repeatable and scalable processes. Customers can also benefit from insights derived from the data to help them accelerate the development of production-grade models.

Companies are focused on different aspects within the ML DataOps ecosystem’s data pipeline. The solutions offered generally fall within the following categories:

3. End-to-end processes: When dealing with enterprise-grade data pipes, efficient and insight-driven processing can make a significant difference in time and cost. Companies often focus on end-to-end solutions to such simplified processes.

2024 is the year of ML DataOps

2024 has seen remarkable growth so far. This is why 2023 will see more investment and development.

First, AI products are being put into production. This is huge. Finance and retail are putting cutting-edge models into production. Once released, feedback loops will be provided. An enterprise’s ability to receive feedback from their model changes will require them to adjust their ML data operations in order to keep up with the changing demands. Edge cases will be returned by field algorithms, which will require data operations to resolve.

Data pipelines need scale and experts in-loop. Enterprises will need to ensure that their annotators are knowledgeable about the product and domain requirements in order to scale efficiently. As they improve their models’ performance, this will result in faster market releases.

End-to-end AI data solutions will soon be available on the market. The technology behind AI is evolving as AI progresses. Combining technology with human-in-the-loop expertise provides enterprises an end-to-end solution when they deploy their models in the field. The best data will be produced by combining the right expertise, judgment, and technology.

Using the Right Processes

Your ability to use technology is as important as its quality. This is why enterprises creating AI applications need to make sure they have the right processes in place for their ML DataOps. Using iMerit as an AI data solution provider gives companies access to domain experts who can help with every stage of a company’s ML DataOps process. This includes requirements definition, workflow engineering, and domain skill identification.

Impact Across Various Sectors

Healthcare: Healthcare has been at the center of attention since the COVID-19 pandemic. To make healthcare accessible and effective, there are many challenges.

Organizations can use data-driven insights to predict the best clinician mix for a particular department. It can also help in the creation of a value-based environment by automating clinical operations, such as physician recruitment, scheduling clinical staff, and clinical systems.

DataOps can help in the creation of patient-centric systems that deliver better-operating processes and customer engagement. This DataOps-led architecture will help to assess capabilities and tools to identify and recommend patient-centric methods to improve connectivity, collaboration, and engagement with patients.

The financial services industry can benefit from the use of innovative data and analytics to improve decision-making and innovation. These tools allow financial service providers to optimize data analytics and enable companies to combine machine intelligence and human expertise to create a trusted ecosystem. Data analytics, for example, can be used by banks to collect customer insights and use this information to make strategic decisions about introducing new products or improving existing business models.

Automobile: Countries are becoming more aware of the potential for autonomous vehicle technology (AV) and taking steps to support its growth. The US, for example, has enacted a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. It includes many suggestions for modernizing infrastructure in order to encourage widespread adoption of AVs. Manufacturers and innovators need to learn how to create AI models that can be used on any road.

Modern transportation is at an all-time high. One of the greatest challenges in the 21st Century is to reduce road accidents and other safety violations. AI-led solutions can significantly aid human drivers and allow for driverless mobility. This sector is home to many leaders in AI, software engineering, and device engineering.

Retail: This industry has a lot of data. From product catalogs to customer information, to customer questions and complaints, it collects a lot. These data can be overwhelming for decision-makers trying to solve a problem. Retail is a sector that appeals to all senses. Data operations are required to interpret any information, whether it is audio, video, text, or both. But, particularly in retail, we need human capabilities to dig into consumer behavior and extract insights that can be used for decision-making. Data-driven solutions can help retailers analyze this huge amount of data and also speed up decision-making in this dynamic industry.

Industries that adopt AI and data solutions will eventually have to create an ecosystem that is able to learn from and help in decision-making. This combination with human-in-the-loop processes provides the perfect blend of technological innovation, human intelligence, and human ability to help businesses achieve their goals and solve problems.

Turn Your Old Ipad Into A Dedicated Kitchen Tablet

Editor’s Note: Now that Apple’s third-generation has arrived in stores, that means a lot of earlier models of Apple’s tablet could find themselves looking for work. If you’re upgrading to a new iPad, you don’t necessarily have to sell your old tablet or give it away. This is the first in a series of articles in which we look at ways to give your old iPad a new purpose. In this installment, we focus on the iPad’s potential as a dedicated kitchen companion.

The App Store is stuffed with apps for planning out meals, organizing grocery lists, and discovering new recipes. So it’s little wonder that so many home cooks consider the iPad as indispensible a kitchen tool as a good chef’s knife. So why not take the next logical step and turn that aging iPad into a dedicated kitchen tablet? All it takes is a little bit of planning to find the hardware and software to fit your specific culinary needs.

Flexible or permanent placement

There are plenty of gadgets for cooking with the iPad, from portable stands to wall-mounted systems. If you tend to move around a lot in your kitchen and want the iPad to move with you, Belkin’s $40 Chef Stand and Stylus is a good option to consider. Since the stand comes with a stylus, you won’t need to use any greasy fingers to navigate your kitchen iPad.

There’s a drawback to portable stands, though: They tend to keep your iPad in the splash zone, where they’re suscpetible to splatter from whatever you’ve got cooking. You can always waterproof your iPad with other accessories (more on that below). And Belkin’s $50 Kitchen Cabinet Mount is another moveable option that will hang from your cabinets, above the counter mess.

If you know exactly where you want your iPad to live in your kitchen, there are screw-in wall or cabinet mounts that will give your iPad a sleek look while you’re mixing ingredients and frying up your latest meal. This is a good option if you want to use your iPad to play music or videos while you’re cooking, or you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to constantly look at a recipe while baking or cooking (like I do).

Vogel’s RingO Holder and Wall Mount ($70 for the iPad 2 and $60 for the original iPad) offer a protective backing for your iPad that clips onto a raised, o-shaped wall mount, giving the iPad a cool, floating look. If you don’t have much wall space, permanent cabinet mounts like the $26 Original Kitchen iPad Rack, are a good way to give your iPad a permanent, but safe spot. The great thing about this rack is that while its placement is permanent, the actual iPad tray lifts out of the screwed-in brackets so you can stick it in a drawer when you’re not using it. Like Vogel’s wall mount, The Original Kitchen iPad Rack also gives your iPad a cool floating look because it’s made of clear plastic.

And finally, you can mount your iPad onto the refrigerator with one of the many available fridge mounts, such as Belkin’s $40 Fridge Mount or the $50 FridgePad Magnetic Refrigerator Mount.

Keep it protected

The kitchen can be one of the messiest places in the house, especially while you’re actively chopping and stirring. While many of the iPad mounts and stands can keep your iPad further away from the counter, there’s still a high chance you’ll accidentally splash water or oil or worse onto your shiny tablet. Plus, touching your iPad’s screen with dirty fingers isn’t good for the iPad screen. Luckily, there are a few ways to protect your kitchen iPad from liquid terror and grease marks.

Protective sleeves like the Chef Sleeve, CleverWraps, and Locksaks fit tightly around your iPad while waterproofing the device. (For $20 you can get a 25 pack of Chef Sleeves, $15 gets you five CleverWraps, and a three pack of Locksaks costs $9.) All of these are fairly thin sleeves, so they don’t obstruct your iPad in most stands and mounts. Looking for a quick and cheap DIY option? Just stick your iPad into an appropriately sized plastic baggie, like Ziploc.

Reset and load up on food (apps)

Like with any dedicated use of an iPad, it’s best to clear the device of anything that won’t be useful to you in that particular setting. For kitchen use, you might consider clearing out your email settings, games, and non-food related media and apps. You’ll be able to focus on exactly what you need from your iPad while you’re in the kitchen.

There are plenty of visually pleasing and interactive cookbook apps, such as Allrecipes, The Photo Cookbook, and Food Network’s In the Kitchen. The original 20 Minute Meals app for the iPhone featuring celebrity chef Jamie Oliver won an Apple Design Award for its meticulous organization two years ago, and the iPad-optimized follow-up—Jamie’s Recipes—is available as a free download. (You buy content packs of recipes through an in-app purchase.) Appetites also has an eye for the visual: The free app features video recipes, so you can see exactly how a dish should be prepared. (Again, you purchase recipe packs from within the app.) Martha Stewart Cookies, recently updated for the new iPad’s Retina display, is a must-have for anyone who enjoys baking. But iCookbook may take the most clever approach for a dedicated kitchen iPad: It features simple voice controls for navigating through recipes, so you don’t have to worry about dirtying up your touchscreen interface when working with raw food.

Interactive book publisher Inkling also offers a full-length interactive iPad ebook of The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America, packed with instructional videos, images, and note-sharing capabilities. While the $50 price tag is a lot steeper than cookbook apps, the book’s 36 chapters cover everything from nutrition basics to braising and stewing to charcuterie.

Beyond cookbooks, there are plenty of iOS offerings that can help you manage your food, shopping lists, and personal recipes. If you find that you’re fridge and pantry get overstocked with old produce and snacks, both the Fridge Police and StillTasty apps can help you keep track of when you need to toss out your food. (Both of these apps are iPhone apps that run on the iPad, though they will not be optimized for the tablet’s screen.)

For keeping track of your grocery list, ShopShop – Shopping List and Shopping List are both excellent apps that can sync across all of your iOS devices. (The latter Shopping List, however, is not optimized for the iPad’s screen.) I tend to remember when I need when I’m in the kitchen and realize it’s not there, so entering your grocery list onto your iPad and opening it back up on your iPad while in the store is really useful.

Of course, just because you turn your iPad into a dedicated kitchen tablet doesn’t mean you can’t use it elsewhere. Most of the stands and mounts mentioned above make it easy to attach and remove your iPad. But using your old iPad as your go-to tool to access all of your favorite recipes, cooking videos, and more right in the kitchen will certainly give the tablet a new and useful life.

[Alexandra Chang is a Macworld staff editor.]

A Different Approach To Teaching Annotation

My high school students notice stuff, too. Their eyes also grow wide with recognition. They see repetitions and discrepancies. They experience cognitive dissonance and ask questions. However, at the beginning of the school year, many consistently claim, “I don’t know” or “I don’t see anything,” when approaching an unfamiliar text. They annotate nothing or highlight everything. Only after months of observation routines do they admit the truth: They didn’t think their annotations would be correct.  

In the late 1990s before No Child Left Behind, the National Reading Panel performed a large-scale secondary analysis to determine the effectiveness of reading instruction. Not surprisingly, they learned that teaching reading comprehension does in fact improve reading, which ignited a series of conditional arguments. If I must teach comprehension, I should teach how to annotate correctly. If there are correct ways, there must be incorrect ways. If there are incorrect ways, there must be ways to assess.

The unsettling consequence of using annotations to assess comprehension is that annotations are no longer used to record curiosity or investigation while reading. Perhaps this is why students constantly ask if their annotations are correct or, more compellingly, why they express contempt toward annotating.

Building a Culture of Observation

Allow me to make myself clear: I am not asking students to stop annotating. I am asking teachers to guide students to observe as a habit of mind, rather than explicitly teach how to annotate. 

When we prescriptively teach annotating, students comply rather than comprehend. When we use annotation guides, students scan the text for answers rather than observe and question. When we grade annotations, students are afraid of being incorrect. The more explicitly we teach it, the more they hate it.

6 Ways to Encourage Observation

1. Prioritize “observing text” as a habit of mind. Insist that “good reading” is not fast or perfect reading. Good readers slow down to observe, to notice. Observe texts together, and annotate collectively. Do not reject any observation, even if it sounds wrong. 

2. Reframe annotation, and invite students to observe through mantras. 

“No one knows what’s important on the first read; trust what you notice—it could matter!” 

“I’m not asking you to find something specific or deep. Notice any little thing.”  

“Can you take this big text and break it down into little parts? What do you see?”

3. Reframe annotation using different analogies or metaphors.

“Read with a pencil. Let the pencil be an extension of your thoughts—from brain, to arm, to pencil, to paper.” 

“Have you ever played I Spy? I Spy stuff, and don’t judge what you find.”

“Don’t run—walk. Walk through the text, and smell the flowers. Notice everything.” 

4. Exemplify various styles of annotations. Laud and display different styles. Victoria loves colors, Angel uses arrows, John draws boxes around phrases, and Oscar only uses a pencil. Omit examples that have scant annotations.

5. Model annotation using different students. While collectively annotating, ask different students to annotate on a projected text as the class shouts out what they notice. Then explicitly state that the style doesn’t matter. What matters is the content—the stuff you notice!

6. Encourage marking words and phrases. Patricia Kain’s essay from the Harvard College Writing Center invites students to focus on words and phrases instead of whole sentences. This is the only suggestion for annotation that I give explicitly. I do not correct their annotations but explain that words and phrases create connections in a way that whole sentences do not. A repetition of phrases or discrepant word choices could lead to important discoveries.

The suggestions above seem simple, but they must be implemented consistently to build a culture. Teachers must genuinely forfeit their own sense of correctness and resist the lure of leading students to the teacher’s answers. Building a culture will require more time, patience, and practice, but not necessarily extra work. 

Teachers will no longer have to tediously grade annotations, trying to guess whether a student understands the text. Students will no longer have to guess what the teacher wants them to mark down and feel like they cannot master a reading assignment. Instead, both will engage in a more observational and analytical learning culture that will pay off in time and energy when students begin to meaningfully engage with texts. They will shout, “Wait! I see something!” and endearingly take photos of their messy annotations, proud of all the scribbles and arrows and stuff that only they can understand. 

Personal Monitoring Tech: Invasion Of The Body Trackers

Personal fitness monitors designed to encourage healthy habits typically involve uncomfortable gear, such as chest straps and armbands, that can discourage people from wearing them. As sensors shrink and software improves, health-tracking systems are becoming less intrusive and capable of collecting more biometric data. One day, users may not have to don any equipment at all.


The Basis band is the first continuous health tracker that measures heart rate at the wrist, rather than the chest or arm. An LED on the underside of the watch shines green light (which blood absorbs particularly well) onto the wearer’s wrist, and a sensor detects how much light bounces back. Because blood volume in the wrist is greatest immediately after a heartbeat, the reflected light can be used to determine pulse. The watch also includes a three-axis accelerometer to detect motion, electrodes to measure galvanic skin response, and heat sensors to track skin and environmental temperature. Real-time data—steps, calories burned and heart rate—appears on the watch display, or users can upload stats via Bluetooth or USB to a website. Basis Band: $200

BodyMedia Patch

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Scanadu Tricorder

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Start-up company Scanadu is creating a monitoring device that can sense a user’s vital signs without any contact. The Tricorder could record chest movement and face-color fluctuations with a digital video camera. Software would then analyze the footage to determine a person’s respiration and heart rates, respectively. An infrared camera in the device will also record body temperature. The company may include other monitors, too, such as ones that could sense disease-associated molecules that people exhale into the air. The Tricorder could be on the market as early as 2014.

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