Before we dive in, let’s look at just a few examples of sketchnotes in education that Mike was kind enough to share with me. It helps to see this work in action so you know what the end goal is as you begin to experiment with sketchnotes.
Take the case of Allison Huang, a middle school student who read Mike’s book on sketchnoting and began experimenting in various mediums with creating sketchnotes for her history and science classes, eventually working her way into producing amazing sketchnotes on blank paper and digitally. You can read her story here, and see an example of her work below.
In case you’re not in the mood to listen, I’ve outlined some of the main points of our conversation below, along with a lot of great visuals that it’s very difficult to put into a podcast! But if you really want the full conversation, please listen to the podcast this week. I’m just going to share a bit in these notes, as the CHALLENGE is to listen and take notes of your own!
The Origin of Sketchnotes
“Instead of writing all these notes with the idea that I would dig through them later and find the value… maybe what I should do is actually analyze what I’m hearing in the moment and make sense of it in the moment, and those things, I’ll put them on the page.” -MR
Sketchnotes originated like so many great things. Mike had a problem he needed to solve. He hated taking notes, even though he was really good at. He filled solid page after solid page in his huge lined notebooks at work, and he hated every minute of it.
Then overnight, he had an epiphany.
What if he just put down what’s most important? What if he actually processed the information as he heard it and made choices about how to represent what mattered to him?
Suddenly, note taking stopped being a burden and actually became fun. He was able to listen and enjoy the moment, writing down the big ideas and suddenly finding himself with free time while taking notes, free time in which he was able to experiment with lettering and design and enjoy the artistry of the project.
Suddenly, his notes were a pleasure to look at, because he had already prioritized the important information. No more digging through pages of information to find out what really mattered.
Want to see Mike’s sketchnotes journey from the beginning up until now? Take a little tour through his amazing Flickr account.
Because many people are not comfortable leaping into artistic activities, Mike has developed a saying, “ideas not art.” The goal of sketchnotes is simply to capture ideas in an interesting way. There is no need to get hung up on drawing skills. Those can develop later if you get into sketchnoting and you WANT to develop those skills.
So comfort yourself and your students that this is not a drawing competition. It’s a way to actively engage with listening and process information far more effectively than routine note taking.
Mike describes drawing as a simple practice of putting elements together – the square, the circle, the triangle, the line and the dot. You can check out my experiments with putting those elements together below, in one of the exercises I did for his book. If I can do it, you can do it! And so can your students.
Sketchnoting is a Powerful Tool for Learners (17:40)
“It involves the whole person. That’s the thing I like the most about it.” -MR
The great thing about sketchnoting is that it involves two important sides of the sketchnoter: thinking/processing AND writing/creating.
Often in school, there is a heavy focus on the verbal and the written.
But according to the dual coding theory, our brain has two ways of processing, the visual and the verbal. The combination of the two leads to the most powerful results. Students will retain information so much more effectively when they have used both parts of themselves to process what they have learned.
Sketchnoting is a powerful and positive redirect for doodlers, and a fresh way to engage for every student, whether or not they enjoy drawing.
Ready to Dive in! Where to start? (21:06)
“There are some resources that are free to get you going, and there’s a community on Twitter if you start looking around… there’s tons of teachers involved in it and they’re pretty excited about it.” -MR
A Powerful Sketchnoting Experience
In this part of the conversation, Mike and I each share a time when the experience of creating sketchnotes was powerful for us. Then we get into some ways that students can get going with sketchnotes.
It doesn’t have to be complicated!
- Spend a half hour watching Mike’s intro video and drawing treehouses with your students (the project at the end of the video).
- After introducing the concept, ask students to sketchnote a Ted Talk you are watching for class.
- Invite students to sketchnote one class lecture, just to see if they like what it adds to their experience.
- Share some examples of sketchnotes, then invite students to use sketchnotes to gather their ideas before writing a paper or taking a test.
The kids who love it are going to run with it.
Thanks for tuning in or reading up. I hope you’re just finishing up your sketchnotes from the show and you’re about to post them!
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