An Educator's Guide to Sketchnoting

Introducing “An Educator’s Guide to Sketchnoting”

An Educator's Guide to Sketchnoting

Whenever I tell my teacher friends about my experiments here with visual note taking, most get excited for me, many end up trying out sketchnoting for themselves, and a number of them also ask about how to incorporate this skill into the classroom.

To help teachers expose their students to the idea of sketchnoting, I have decided to write a guide that provides an overview of sketchnoting, explains how it can be used as a powerful learning tool, and provide suggestions for how to incorporate the teaching of this skill into classroom activities.

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When children first learn to write, the idea of combining words and pictures comes naturally. With time and rigid education practices, however, we lose that freedom. The activities in this guide will be designed to give that freedom back to students of all ages.

I’ll be writing this book with middle school, high school, and college students in mind, but I think the activities can be applied to younger and older learners as well. If you are a teacher who fears drawing, no need to worry – you will not need to be a master artist in order to pass this skill on to your students.

This will not be a textbook on sketchnoting. Mike Rohde has already crafted a beautiful book that fills that role.

Instead this guide will show teachers how to use that book, as well as other resources, to expose students to this new skill and help them start to develop it. It will include individual activities as well as fully developed lesson plans that can be used in the classroom.

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Encouraging students to use visuals in the learning process is not new. Graphic organizers and minds maps have been around for a long time.

But I think few teachers are encouraging students to regularly use visuals in their notes. Many may realize the benefits that sketchnoting brings to the learning experience, but don’t have the tools or the strategies to incorporate the teaching of that skill into their classroom. The goal of this guide is to provide those resources in an accessible way.

If you want to stay up to date with the development of this guide (and give feedback along the way) be sure to sign up for The Verbal To Visual Newsletter. In the next update on this project I’ll be sharing an outline for the book, and I would love to get feedback from as many people as possible. Stay tuned!

Comments 14

  1. This is an exciting project! I recently bought a copy of The Sketchnote Handbook Mike Rohde as I saw the potential of using this with students. I will very much look forward to your book. My students really enjoy the few sketchnotes we have done so far.

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      Author

      Glad you’re excited about this project! I am too. That’s great to hear that your students are enjoying the sketchnoting process as well. I think middle school is a great time to introduce kids to it – when info is starting to get a bit more complex, but kids aren’t yet turned off by doing ‘artistic’ things in class. I’ll keep you up to date regarding this project (and will also be seeking feedback soon too!).

  2. This looks fascinating. I’m a teaching artist, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and tinkering around using sketchnotes to capture story ideas, facilitate the playbuilding process, and engage in the visual elements of dramatic thinking. I can’t wait to see what you create!

    And, I encourage you to consider your non-traditional educators, like after-school teachers, as a group to share your work with. 🙂

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      Author

      Hi Caleb! That’s awesome that you’re using sketchnotes in those ways. I could see them as being a useful tool in the dramatic arts. I’ll be sure to share with you an early version of the guide – my ultimate goal is to make it useful for educations both within traditional school settings as well as outside of those settings. So your perspective will be much appreciated!

  3. I love this idea. I’m an elementary teacher (Grade 4, 9 to 10 year olds), and I have taught my students how to create sketch notes for a couple years. I would love it if there was a student-oriented approach. If you’re looking for ‘beta testers’, get in touch with me, and I’d love to give you constructive feedback.

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      Author

      Hi Richard! That’s great that you’re already bring skechnotes into the classroom. What sort of reaction do you get from your students? I will definitely be looking for beta testers! Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? It will be via that newsletter that I’ll be reaching out.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Doug

      1. Generally, my students enjoy Sketchnoting. There are a few that take to it like fish to water, others who start out resistant (“I hate drawing”… which is fair enough) and then often become fervent supporters, and some who give it a go and simply don’t like it. The way I see it, as a teacher part of my job is to expose them to as many options as possible, support them to give it a chance, and let them choose what works for them.

        I’m curious what other people’ opinions are of Sunni Brown’s Gamestorming. Amazon’s description says the book has 80+ games “to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies” Anyone know how that would work in an education setting with young people?

  4. I too am a teacher. I work with special needs students who have limited writing and attention skills. Ever since I saw Suni Brown on a TED Talk, I have been been trying to make scketchnoting lessons and have it become part of our daily routine. The biggest hurtle I have encountered is the “I can’t draw” objection. Middle school students tend to want things to be perfect, instead of erasing, they’ll many times crumple it up and throw it away (hence the missing homework that plague so many). Even the argument that “…writing your name is drawing..” doesn’t work. Some way of easing them into it, like creating and ‘educational trap’so they don’t know they’re learning…

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      Author

      Hi BJ,

      Thanks for your comment. Sunni Brown’s TED Talk was great – it’s why I started this site a few years back. Sunni recently published a book titled The Doodle Revolution. It’s packed with games and activities for incorporating what she calls “infodoodling” (which is the same thing as sketchnoting) into all sorts of processes. Her book is a little bit more directed toward business culture than school culture, but I still recommend checking it out – it’s a great place to start, and it might give you some ‘educational traps’ to work with. I’ll definitely keep that idea in mind as well as I continue developing The Educator’s Guide to Sketchnoting.

      Take care,
      Doug

      1. I have all her books, plus Mike Rhodes! They are great!
        However, converting them for school kids is a chore.
        I have been gathering bits and pieces from others out there in hopes of coming up with separate presentations relating to specific elements of sketch-notes.

        I think that building confidence in the students’ drawing ability should come first. How would you suggest That happen?

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          Author

          Hi BJ,

          I agree, getting kids confident in their general drawing skills would be a good place to start. One thing to try might be something involving The Visual Alphabet that Sunni mentions in The Doodle Revolution. Just have kids fill a few pages with those elements, then start using them to draw actual objects around the room. Let me know if you give that a try, or if you come up with a better idea of your own!

        2. Hi BJ. That’s awesome that you’ve built it into your daily routine. I’m curious how you’ve managed that. And, I hear ya about needing things to be perfect. I wish I had some magic answer for that one. Here’s a couple things I try to keep it a low risk activity.

          I Sketchnote with my students often, and show them how I organise things, etc, but I also show them when I mess up. I show them how I sometimes do google searches to figure out what something looks like. I repeat the mantra “Ideas, not art” whenever we discuss Sketchnoting. Last week we sketchnoted a presentation, and before we arrived at the venue, I had everyone agree that all of our sketchnotes are works in progress, and that they were all going to be ugly. They giggled and it took the pressure off making notes that look good. I’m collecting more samples of child-produced Sketchnotes, so my students can have some exemplars that aren’t just the amazingly polished work at Sketchnote Army.

          I hope this helps.

  5. hi all, this is indeed an exciting idea. I’m very new to Sketchnoting after hearing Mike Rohde on a podcast (the Accidental Creative) and am incorporating it a little in my personal journaling. As a teacher and Chaplain, I speak to large groups of students regularly and am looking for ways to perhaps incorporate sketch notes as a handout after the Chapel Service or Assembly presentation, etc. I’m preaching this weekend and instead of typed notes for the congregation to fill gaps and take their own notes, I’m planning to put my key points into a sketch note and hand that out at the beginning of my sermon to help people ‘see’ and hear the message.

    Really excited to see where this Educator’s Guide goes.

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      Author

      Hi Paul, and welcome to the world of sketchnoting! I’m glad that The Accidental Creative brought the topic to your attention (I’m a big fan of Todd Henry’s work). Sounds like you’ve got some great applications in mind. This Educator’s Guide is still in the works – right now I’m laying a solid foundation via The Verbal To Visual Classroom, which you might be interested in as you develop your skills. Within the next six months I hope to have a version of the Educator’s Guide out!

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