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Sketchnoting in the Classroom

Visual note taking is a way to actively listen and keep student brains (and hands) occupied while listening.  Best of all

Students LOVE It!!

 Select a fiction novel that has vivid descriptions, a unique setting and delightful characters that will lend themselves well to the act of visual note taking as the novel is read aloud. 

What is Sketchnoting?

Sketchnotes are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don't require a high level of drawing skills, but help students make connections to text, visualize and summarize their listening experience.

Sketchnotes are a note taking strategy AND form of creative expression.
Visual Note Taking

Sketchnoting Tips

Introducing sketchnoting to students can seem like a daunting task at first; placing that BLANK sheet of paper in front of a student. But giving students a nudge and MODELING the sketchnoting process yourself (even if you are NOT artistic!) is a great way to guide them in the process. Most importantly, SHARE! Take pictures of student work. Let students show and explain their work to the class. They will naturally inspire each other to add details and embellish their own work for display.

How To Get Started

Step #1. Distribute PLAIN paper. Allow students to sketch in pen OR pencil. Whatever writing utensil they’re MOST comfortable with.

Step #2. Arm them with suggestions...teach them something NEW! I started by showing them: 

Step #3. Read!! Occasionally pause during the reading to point out an interesting image that you’d like to draw (but you can’t because you’re reading!) That will undoubtedly inspire students to try to create the image themselves.   After a few chapters, students can take turns reading and sharing their notes with a partner after reading...this is a GREAT way to solidify understanding and review of story events.

Step #4. Provide a list of difficult to spell character names, setting(s), etc. Students are listening, they aren't looking at the words so they’ll need access to the spellings of names to add to their notes.

Step #5.  Comment on the author's craft as you read.  Point out personification, allusions, vivid descriptions, characterization and other features of the writing and follow up with mini-lessons to support student understanding.

How WE Did It!

In our class we read the novel "All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook".   I began by modeling some basic Sketchnote taking strategies and showing my personal notes that I made for the first few chapters.  Students listened to the story and sketched away! We routinely shared our drawings and I took many photos.  
 Student Examples:

(Did I mention these are SIX GRADERS???!?!) . 🙌

Visual note taking will make students take note (literally), and you'll be: