Emergency Phone Numbers24-hr Crisis Lines: 855.278.4204 (Santa Clara) | 650.579.0350 (San Mateo) | 415.781.0500 (San Francisco) | 800.273.8255 or Text BAY to 741-741 (National)

Why Teachers Are So Excited About the Power of Sketchnoting

Most of us doodle at one time or another… Sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, can transform those doodles into a tool that helps our students deepen their understanding of a concept. Are you interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom? Read on!

Why Teachers Are So Excited About the Power of Sketchnoting

Once a month, Rayna Freedman’s fifth-graders present their genius hour projects. They get to explore anything that interests them and present what they’ve learned to the class in whatever way they want. Freedman likes genius hour projects because students often get more excited about researching and sharing their knowledge about a topic that interests them. But she was never sure what the other kids were getting out of listening to the presentations.

One day she noticed a student in the back of the class drawing during the presentations. She went over, ready to reprimand him for not paying attention, but instead asked him what he was doing. He explained he doodles what his classmate is talking about to help him remember later. A lightbulb went on for Freedman.

“I thought that if the kids had a way to show me what they were learning, I would know what other kids were getting out of it,” Freedman said during a presentation on how she uses sketchnoting in her classroom at the Building Learning Communities conference.

This first step into doodling for learning has opened up an extensive new classroom practice for Freedman. She’s been encouraging students to take visual notes for only a little over a year, but she’s seen it help some students tremendously.

Freedman has come to see sketchnoting as a bridge between early elementary, when students necessarily think visually because they are still learning to read, and middle school, where suddenly all visual thinking seems to stop.

Freedman uses sketchnoting resources on the website of Sylvia Duckworth, a former teacher and author who has become a sketchnoting celebrity. Duckworth breaks down the elements of a sketchnote like icons, containers and font to help the artist think about organizing the sketch. Freedman has found those tools help her students organize their thinking as well.

Since the genius project experiment, Freedman has offered sketchnoting as an option to her students in many other ways. She’s found that student sketches are a great jumping-off point to ask them more about their thinking — they look at what they’ve drawn and can tell her far more than they used to. And, she can easily spot when there are misconceptions.

Sketchnoting With Special Needs Students

Carrie Baughcum teaches students with special learning needs at South Middle in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Her students have a range of disabilities from motor challenges, to language challenges, to emotional and behavioral issues. She usually has students for English, math, social studies and a resource class, but they are integrated into other subjects throughout the day. And, as they become more independent learners throughout their time in middle school, they often transition out to the general classroom more often.

Before Baughcum discovered sketchnoting, she used a fairly traditional approach with her students. She was focused on building their comprehension skills and did a lot of skill practice with them. She always saw gains and made solid progress on her students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), but she hadn’t done a lot of thinking about how to get them excited about what they were learning.

Her students didn’t have a lot of experience visualizing, but once she started asking them to do so, and they got comfortable with the idea, Baughcum has seen the practice deepen their comprehension. But, she cautions, it doesn’t always look how she expects. She’s even written a guide to sketchnoting in the classroom called My Pencil Made Me Do It.

Baughcum doesn’t care what the drawings look like, as long as her students can talk about the ideas they represent. She never gives feedback on the drawings themselves, only on the thinking. She often spots misconceptions in the drawings her students have made — valuable information for her — but also opportunities to discuss editing the drawing to fill in those comprehension holes.

“The conversations we have in my classroom have become richer,” Baughcum said, and there’s less lag time retrieving thoughts. She points out to students how much cognitive processing is happening as they sketchnote. They’re listening to information, making sense of it, connecting it to other information they know and to a visual image, and then drawing it. It’s an active process, which is why Baughcum has found it to be so powerful for her students.

“That offers this really wonderful desire to want to do it more because they’re feeling good about what they’re thinking,” Baughcum said.

Excerpted from “Why Teachers Are So Excited About the Power of Sketchnoting” in MindShift. Read the full article to learn more about this practice along with some tips for implementing sketchnoting in your classroom.

Source: MindShift | Why Teachers Are So Excited About the Power of Sketchnoting, https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/54655/why-teachers-are-so-excited-about-the-power-of-sketchnoting | Copyright © 2019 KQED INC

The second edition of How to Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth is available now. Learn more about it.

Tags: , , , , ,