Starting with Sketchnotes

After following the #sketchnoting conversation between educators on Twitter, I became intrigued. I popped in the sketchnoting room at the 2018 EdCamp and my brain was abuzz with ideas for how this could change the way students engage with information in Science class.

A sketchnote about Sketchnotes. Includes: ideas about where do we start; the importance of ideas, layouts and images; a list of sketchperts, and a prompt to just dive in
My first attempt at sketchnoting at the 2018 Ottawa EdCamp

Not one to waste any time, I reordered our units in SNC1DF and set Earth & Space: the Study of the Universe next on our calendar. My idea was simple:

  • Have students listen in class and jot down/sketch key words or concepts.
  • Provide ample time in class for hands-on activities, sketchnoting the day’s key ideas, and practice.
  • Have students upload their sketchnotes each day into a shared Google Slides presentation.

Here is why I’m excited about this idea:

  • Pulling out the Big Ideas and key terms is a challenge for grade 9 students. I think this will help them practice identifying what is most important
  • All of the research points to this being a more effective way for students to encode & recall information. An effective & efficient memory is important in science (though I’d argue understanding is more important – see the next point!)
  • When writing notes during class, I find students aren’t engaged or listening. They are so focused on voraciously writing down all the details that often they don’t even know what they’re writing.
  • By working with the material after the lesson, I’m hopeful students will sit with the material a bit more. I see this happening in two ways: 1. being more engaged & conversational during times that concepts are being presented, and 2. thinking through the material when sketchnoting (how do I draw something I don’t get?)
  • When students upload their sketchnotes, they can serve as an immediate formative assessment tool to see how well they understand the material.
  • The collaborative presentation provides ample examples of the material, reworked by various students. This means that if a student doesn’t get a concept, they can look at many examples. Or if they see that other students have represented something in a totally different way, we can have meaningful conversations around those differences.

I’m sure there will be many unforeseen issues and pitfalls of the approach, but learning to take in feedback & readjust is a big part of meaningful education!

And really, what’s science without experimentation?

You can follow our sketchnoting adventure on Twitter and in this series of posts.