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Sketchnoting in the Classroom: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you ready to try something new? Sketchnoting isn’t a new concept, but it’s gaining traction throughout education communities. Educators and students are exploring ways to capture their learning. It’s been very exciting to see the excitement around sketchnoting in the classroom. If you are ready to learn how to sketchnote, I have a fantastic book to recommend!

In earlier blog posts I’ve shared some tools for sketchnoting and strategies I’ve seen in action. I’ve tried out sketchnoting myself a few times. Usually when listening to speakers at a conference or capturing ideas from a reading. But when I heard that Sylvia Duckworth was publishing a new book on the topic, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy!

How to Sketchnote: A Step by Step Manual for Teachers and Students

Sylvia Duckworth is an Apple Distinguished educator, Google Certified Innovator, and avid sketchnoter. You’ve probably seen her wonderful creations shared by fellow educators on your Twitter or Facebook feed. Sylvia’s new book on sketchnoting was released this month. It’s called How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students. She was kind enough to send a copy for me to explore, and to carve out time to answer questions about her work!

What motivated you to write a book on this topic?

Sketchnoting in the Classroom A Beginner’s GuideI have had so many people tell me that they would love to start sketchnoting or start sketchnoting with their students, but they don’t know where to start. This book takes a deliberate scaffolding approach to enable even the most reluctant artists to start sketchnoting.

Why is this topic important to you?

Sketchnoting offers so many benefits. Studies have proven that images are much more effective than words when it comes to memory retention, comprehension, and motivation. There are psychological benefits as well because sketchnoting has a calming effect similar to that of meditation and listening to soothing music. Sketchnoting also allows students to see the bigger picture in the concepts they are studying, make connections in their learning, and display their learning process.

Every teacher I have talked to who has introduced sketchnoting to their students has claimed that the practice has positively transformed the learning environment. Students love sketchnoting and are more engaged in class when using this method. Note-taking becomes more meaningful and fun when you add doodles to text. It quickly becomes a favorite activity for many learners.

How can educators bring sketchnoting into their classroom this year?

They can begin by buying this book! In the meantime, they can visit my website to view short How-to-Draw videos to get started sketchnoting. For more tips and tricks for getting started with sketchnoting in the classroom, please take a look at this document with input from some of my edusketcher friends.

Does sketchnoting have a place in any subject and grade level, or is there one specific area you recommend?

I have talked to teachers who have introduced sketchnoting to students in kindergarten all the way up to university. There is no age or grade limit!

Do you have advice for an educator who wants to introduce sketchnoting to a group of students?

I think the best approach would be to model sketchnoting yourself as a teacher. If you’re new to sketchnoting, you can tell your students that you will be learning together. With my book, you can conduct the lessons daily and enjoy discovering together how much fun and easy it is to sketchnote.

How can school leaders encourage sketchnoting at their school?

Before students can start sketchnoting in class, the teacher needs to establish a doodling culture. Students need to know that it’s okay to doodle in class, which may run counterintuitive to the way many teachers and administrators believe students pay attention. Too many teachers believe that a student needs to be looking directly at them to absorb the valuable information they are dispensing.

Research, however, has proven the opposite: Students are more likely to stay engaged in the lesson and to absorb and retain the information when they are doodling or sketchnoting. School leaders can support and encourage sketchnoting at their school by celebrating student sketchnotes and by trying it themselves!

Ready to start your sketchnoting journey? Take a look at Sylvia’s new book How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students, now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. I think you’ll love it just as much as I do! And don’t forget to connect with Sylvia on Twitter too!

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Blog Author and EdTech Consultant Dr. Monica Burns

Monica Burns

Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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