Friday, August 12, 2016

Sketching in the Classroom

My Sketchnote Notebook 

Dear Readers,

I have recently found a love for creating visual representations (aka "Sketchnotes"). I was first introduced to sketchnotes when Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) created one based on my first blog post on becoming a Literacy Teacher.

I have always incorporated anchor charts (thank you #tcrwp) into my instruction to develop independent learners and capture our lessons and thinking.

Student-Centered Learning

A book that really resonated with me this summer was Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn by Mike Anderson (@balancedteacher). In it, he discusses the important of student choice. As I reflected on my instructional practices, it made me think about different ways to offer students choice in their learning. Many of my students love to doodle and draw. I started to think about how I could improve my teaching practices by offering more options for note-taking or responding to literature.

After seeing Stacey Lindes' (@iruntech) 100 day challenge to herself of producing 100 sketchnotes in 100 days, I was extremely motivated to try it. Here is my journey thus far in the world of sketchnotes.

Step 1: Trying to Capture My Understanding After Reading a Text

While I was moderating #LAUNCHBOOK Chat, I was interacting with the text very closely and making tons of annotations in my book. I wanted to create a visual poster of my thinking regarding the design cycle. 

Step 2: Combining Several Anchor Charts into a Single Cohesive Chart

Last month, I was teaching a modified Genius Hour summer session and after brainstorming with my students, realized I had four different posters on creating and revising research questions. I wanted to combine all of our thinking so students could see it as a process. 

Step 3: Co-Created a Poster with Students in Real Time

Instead of waiting until after class, I wanted students to see the process of going through the formation of a sketchnote. As we discussed ideas for research stamina, I captured it as a process. 

It worked extremely well! I was able to show them how sometimes we go back and repeat steps. It also showed them that thinking is messy! We want it to be messy! 

Step 4: Sketchnoting While Reading

My next step was to try sketchnoting in real time while I was reading. As I thought about building our classroom community this year, I was inspired by ideas from Reading in the Wild and The Reading Strategies Book. 

Step 5: "Pirate Books"

At this point, I wanted to see what it would feel like to have a sketchnote notebook to start capturing ideas while learning. I bought this:

Some of my biggest inspiration comes from Dave and Shelley Burgess who always put out really creative books with amazing authors. The content of the books are so diverse and quite frankly, just plain fun! I knew I would really be able to bring my creativity to sketchnotes using their publications. My sketchnote notebook began.

My first creations were using Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), P is for Pirate by Dave and Shelley Burgess (@burgess_shelley) and Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran (@MathDenisNJ). 

Step 6: "Pirate" Author Requests

I was having so much fun that I decided to take some requests! I asked Paul Soloraz (@PaulSoloraz) and Quinn Rollins (@jedikermit) to choose their favorite chapters and I would create their custom-made sketchnotes! 

I asked Quinn what one of his his favorite chapters was and he chose action figures. Then I asked him one of his favorite children's books and his first choice was Harold and the Purple Crayon. 

Paul chose chapter 3 as one of his favorites! 

Step 7: Capturing a Twitter Chat

Now I was ready to take on summarizing a chat! I am honored to co-moderate the slow chat #theclassroomwall with Steve Wyborney (@SteveWyborney). I looked back through the responses to and captured common themes and ideas for Question #1. 

Step 8: My Personal Mission Statement

As I started to fill my notebook, I decided to add my personal mission statement that hangs in my classroom. Here is what I came up with:

Next Steps

My next sketchnote will be based on the following Young Adult book:

I want to see, from a student perspective, how I can use sketchnotes to respond to reading. First, I will choose a writing prompt and then respond to it in the form of a sketchnote.


As I reflect on this journey, I can see many benefits to introducing this learning tool to students. A few things come to mind when I consider the benefits to student learning:
  • use language and/or pictures/symbols to capture their learning in an organized way that makes sense to them
  • choose key words/phrases/ideas that are essential to their learning
  • write down as much or as little information that they need
  • give them options for taking notes, conducting research and making their thinking and/or learning visible to others
  • collaborate together on tasks
  • offer an alternative to traditional writing in response to reading essay type tasks
  • offer more options for the pre-writing stage of the writing progress
There are so many more! My hope is to create an anchor notebook for them to draw ideas from.

I cannot wait to see where my creativity will go!