A Picture's Worth

Sketchnoting & GT Physics

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Sketcho Frenzy: The Basics of Visual Note-taking

What is Visual Note Taking/Sketchnoting?

In its simplest form, Visual Note Taking (which we'll call Sketchnoting) is a way to take notes that utilizes images for big ideas/concepts. Colors and lettering can also be a part of the Sketchnoting process. According to Ditch That Textbook author Matt Miller:


  • What if we did more of this in class? These types of notes could be huge for visual learners, and fellow classmates’ representations of the day’s lesson could be huge for a learner who is struggling with a particular topic.
  • What if we put more emphasis on the big take-away lessons? So often, we have our list of content to cover in a unit or a school year. At times, we lay the lessons out wide and shallow instead of digging deep to emphasize the most important ideas. Sometimes, those key take-away lessons can get lost in a sea of lesser facts.

Sketchnoting and Science

Rob Dimeo's blog post

Why Sketchnoting?

It should be no surprise that visualizing concepts helps the brain learn a concept better. When someone incorporates images to represent main ideas or concepts from an article or lecture, it forces the brain to decide which information is worth doodling down and how best to represent it.


Going back through the Sketchnote with colors and jazzing up the fonts after the initial sketch reinforces the idea that reviewing notes shortly after taking them helps the information absorb better.


As for students, especially those identified as gifted, there are many who are visual-spatial learners. Traditional note taking methods such as Cornell, although a strong strategy, are not always the best way for these type of learners to take notes. Sketchnoting allows these students to see "the big picture" and concepts visually. The layout of the images engages the spatial reasoning in a student.


"Eye to Eye: connecting with visual-spatial learners"

"Gifted Students with Spatial Strengths and Sequential Weaknesses"

"Effective Teaching Strategies for Gifted/Learning-Disabled Students with Spatial Strengths"

"Strategies for Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners"

When Do You Sketchnote?

Just like with systems such as Cornell or concept mapping (which is actually Sketchnoting in a different form), all students should practice the technique. However, the thing to keep in mind is that this should become a choice for students who prefer to take notes this way.


Students should start with Sketchnoting articles for class or perhaps taking traditional notes and turning them into Sketchnotes. This gives the students time to visualize and review with colors/lettering. Eventually, students can begin to Sketchnote lectures, videos, presentations, etc.

More Examples

A student's post of sketchnotes for science.

How Do I Start Sketchnoting?

Although you can always sketchnote with a standard pen and notebook, there are some great options for digital sketchnoting.
The Queen: Sylvia Duckworth

Sylvia's Sketchnotes are well known. The above Google Slides presentation is her "how to" for anyone interested in Sketchnoting.

iTunesU

There is an entire course created in iTunes to teach Sketchnoting.


EdTech Take Out

This is a fantastic podcast for educators to subscribe to. They had an entire episode on Sketchnoting.


A Couple More

Both Core 77 and UX Master have a 101 course for Sketchnotes and Sketchnoting.


Tools

There are plenty of online drawing courses to help with images and lettering. A couple are Brain Doodles and Made Vibrant's Better Lettering Course.

Resources

There are more resources out there than could possible all fit on this Smore. Below are a few that include even more resources and "how tos."