As I mentioned in my previous post, "Hooked on Sketchnoting!" visual notetaking has allowed me to connect my thoughts and ideas in meaningful ways more effectively retaining information and making more sense of my learning. It has been so powerful for me in my personal learning, I have been determined to find a way to teach this method of notetaking to my students. I've created opportunities for my students to sketchnote multiple times, but never really felt that I front loaded it effectively.....until now.
Last week in my Culinary Arts 2 class, I decided I would give it another go. I was inspired by visual thinker and author of The Doodle Revolution, Sunni Brown, at a session I attended at IntegratED in Portland, OR and was ready to try another approach. To be completely honest, this was one of those lightbulb moments where I made a last minute change to my lesson in the final hour before class. It was a risk, but one that ended up being a huge success!
Students had just finished making a rich dough that they were going to be storing to make Donuts the next day. As they were coming back to their tables, I had cups of freshly sharpened colored pencils, black pens, 1 3x5 card, and one square piece of drawing paper waiting for them. To begin, I showed them my collection of sketchnotes and shared my personal journey in visual notetaking and how it has been a powerful way for me to connect my learning and retain information. I explained how learning this method of visual notetaking will provide them with another tool that they can use not only in this class, but other classes and experiences as well.
To introduce the basics of visual notetaking, I used Matt Miller's slideshow Sketchnotes: Tools & Tactics for Visual Notetaking from The Ditch that Textbook website. I found this slideshow very helpful and it included a video clip called Sketcho Frenzy that explains sketchnoting basics beautifully.
Now it was time for an activity. In Sunni Brown's session I recently attended, she had us participate in this awesome activity where she called out an item and we had to draw it and then pass it around the table until we got it back so we could see everyone else's. We repeated this with 6 or 7 more items, each getting slightly more abstract as we went. I really liked how this activity made you think about how you would draw different images and allowed you to see how different people perceive images in different ways. I walked my students through this activity on their 3x5 cards and they LOVED it! They were completely engaged and had so much fun! It also relaxed them and gave them a bit of confidence to begin our first sketchnote.
Students were now warmed up and ready to walk them through the sketchnote process. I shared with them how I use a black pen to write text and images and colored pencils to shade and add color. I created a slideshow with each instruction on a different slide. The first step was to write "Yeast Bread Method" on their piece of drawing paper. It could be placed anywhere they wanted based on the structure that they wanted to set up on their page. Next, I showed them "Step 1" of the yeast bread method. I asked them what images came to mind. I had them add text and images on their page for "Step 1" thinking about their placement based on their sketchnote structure. I then proceeded to "Step 2", "Step 3", etc until all steps were included. I told students that if they were done before we moved on to the next step, they could use the time to add color, detail, etc. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Students were completely immersed in their drawings.
To finish, we had a discussion about how they felt about this new method of notetaking, and students had wonderful ideas about how they could use this in other areas of their life. It was interesting to hear students say how much they enjoyed it, but voiced concern that it wouldn't be an accepted form of notetaking by some teachers, or fear that they wouldn't get enough information down. We had a great discussion about what is most important, getting lots of information down, or truly comprehending, connecting, and retaining what was learned.
After this lesson, I was inspired to continue practicing visual notetaking with my students. It is such an important skill that we can equip our students with that can be used in all subject areas and experiences. I encourage you to take the leap and think about how you may be able to incorporate sketchnoting into your own personal learning and/or your classroom. Make sure to check out the resources on Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook Website and others listed in my blog "Hooked on Sketchnoting!"
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead. Passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning come alive for Ss. Love to gamify! Host #XPLAP chat WED 5 PST