Sketchnoting

Join Us at ILA 2018 for “It’s Sketchy! Visual Notetaking for Every Classroom”

Original graphic created by Tanny McGregor

I am honored to be presenting with Tanny McGregor and Paula Bourque at the 2018 International Literacy Conference in Austin, Texas this July!  If you are attending, please join our fun and interactive two hour workshop on Sunday, July 22 in Room 18B from 4PM-6PM.   This session is geared for classroom teachers, coaches, and administrators who work with students at any grade level!  Here is a quick overview of our workshop:

This will be an interactive and hands-on session in which presenters will first share the compelling research to advocate for the integration of sketchnoting as effective technique for capturing, organizing, and synthesizing information in all content areas. Then we will share samples of our students’ sketchnotes as well as examples of our personal sketchnotes. Participants will then learn the elements of sketchnoting and create their own sketchnotes to represent concepts and ideas shared in the session or for lessons they plan to teach when they return to their classrooms. Our goal is that all participants walk away with a toolkit of techniques and ideas for implementing these visual notetaking strategies immediately and can share the rationale and research to administrators, colleagues, parents, and students.

A year ago this summer,  Tanny inspired me from afar with her work on sketchnoting, and I incorporated it into my classroom this past academic year.  I am so excited and thrilled to present with her and Paula as we share the reasons for sketchnoting in any classroom, any grade, and in any subject area, inquire into real world examples of sketchnoting from our students, and share strategies to take those first steps for integrating sketchnoting into your instruction and learning with students.   Our session will be full of fun, discussion, sharing, and “can do” energy, so please join us if you can!

Visual Notetaking and Analysis of Poetry with Sketchnoting

Throughout this school year, I have been using sketchnoting as a medium for helping students craft visual notes and share their closer reading of a text.  Whether sketchnoting smaller chunks of a text or lengthier excerpts, I usually provide students some scaffolding for thinking about their sketchnote designs by giving them steps or talking points of ideas they may want to incorporate into their sketchnote design.

Students just completed a unit project on Dickinson and Whitman in which sketchnoting a poem by one or both of these poets was an option in the project learning contract.   Like all of their other creative product options, I provided a working “checklist” of ideas for designing their visual notes and analysis of a Dickinson or Whitman poem of their choice:

Our “Sketchnote Center” referenced in the support document was a collection of exemplary sketchnotes students had created last semester, and these served as “mentor texts” to inspire student thinking.  The “FSLL” method mentioned in the document is a strategy for poetry analysis I found in the summer of 2016 from a fellow teacher in this Facebook group.  I will compose a separate blog post on the FSLL strategy soon.

Here is an initial sampler of student work:

Supplies I provided students included:

  • 11X17 paper (plain white as well as pastel colored sheets)
  • Assorted colors of Sharpies
  • Magic Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Copies of the poems they wanted to sketchnote (I did printing upon demand for students)

Two of my classes were able to participate in a gallery walk in which we set up stations for students to view and provide feedback on the creative products (sketchnotes were one choice on a menu of possibilities)  that students created for their projects (students had the choice to work alone or with a partner on the project).  Of these two classes, some students in one section crafted “commercials” to pitch their project and orient their peers using the Seesaw app.

And here are some scenes from our project gallery walk (another blog post forthcoming soon) we did in our media center last week:

 

 

If you want to learn more about sketchnoting, these resources are my starting points, and I think you’ll find them helpful as well!

Last but not least, the video recording of Shawna and Tanny’s presentation:

Tanny has been such a wonderful supporter of my work with my students this academic school year, and I am thrilled to share that I will be presenting at ILA (International Literacy Association) 2018 in Austin, Texas with the amazing Tanny McGregor and Paula Bourque! Our hands-on workshop is “It’s Sketchy! Visual Notetaking for Every Classroom” and will take place this July. I’ll post more information once I know our session date and time. I am truly honored to be presenting with these two incredible literacy educators. You can learn more about the conference here.

Are you sketchnoting with your students?  If so, I’d love to hear about what you are doing!

Notebook Invitations, Annotation Statements, and Sketchnoting for Introducing and Navigating Challenging Nonfiction

Like many of you, I have found Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to be a challenging text for students in terms of both content and vocabulary.  Most 11th grade teachers find this be an especially tedious text to teach; several of you on Twitter shared it has been a struggle to engage students with this text.  As I worked on my lesson plans for the selection, I wondered how on earth I could help students navigate the text in a meaningful way.  I decided in both my Honors level, team taught, and college-prep level junior classes (5 total sections) that we would work through the text over two days with these activities during our block instructional time:

  • A Writer’s Notebook Invitation (#6) to get students thinking about the words in the selection and what predictions they could make about the text based on a word cloud of the sermon without knowing the title of the work or that it was a sermon.
  • A Reader’s Theatre performance to introduce Puritan values and the Great Awakening to students.
  • “Chunked” reading together of the selection with “pause and reflect” time after each time to annotate, sketchnote, and identify unfamiliar and/or strong vocabulary from that specific section.

We first began with our Writer’s Notebook Invitation in which students were presented the following visual prompt and questions for thinking:

Students had a copies of the prompt and image at their table group areas in the neon ticket pouches I use to share information with students so that they could examine the word cloud  more closely.  Students could then volunteer to share all or part of their entry with the class during our share time; as part of our notebook process work, students who volunteer to share get a neon orange sticker on their notebook page that reminds both of us the student has shared and will get bonus points on their self-selected notebook assessment we do monthly.  This sharing time is important because students get to hear each other’s thinking aloud, and the ideas shared in this session helped us think about strategies for making predictions based on word choice and making inferences based on the word cloud. Some students even made connections to other texts they read last year in 10th grade like Greek myths or Dante’s Inferno.  This activity took roughly 30 minutes or a third of our ninety minute block time.

We then got up and moving around with the Reader’s Theatre performance.  Before jumping into the text, I provided students the first page of a two page graphic organizer we’d need for our annotating and sketchnoting activity.  We numbered each section or chunk 1-4; I then explained to students this graphic organizer would provide us a way of reading and thinking actively about the text and help us navigate this most complex text of our unit of study.  I explained that we do three things with the active reading graphic organizer during our “pause and reflect” time:

  1.  We would compose two annotation statements as part of our noticings and reflection on that section.  I provided students annotation codes and sentence starters to help them compose their reflections; these codes are based on Cris Tovani’s work in Chapter 5 of So What Do They Really Know? and annotations as formative assessment.
  2. Sketchnoting:  we created a graphic or visual representation of what we “saw” in our minds as we read that section.
  3. Vocabulary: we recorded unfamiliar vocabulary; we also captured words that were strong or vivid word choices that appealed to our emotions.

In each class on this first day of the activity, we were able to finish anywhere from 2-4 sections in class (4B lost time due to an unexpected fire drill).   Students had copies of the annotation codes and sentence starters in their neon pouches, and I repeated the instructions during each “pause and reflect” session after we read a chunk or section of text.

Students could read ahead if they finished early, and students could take their work home if they needed to finish their work that evening.  I was truly astonished by the thinking I saw in their written AND in their visual representations across all classes.

 

  

 

Many students shared they liked this process, especially the sketchnotes; several made it a point to use their colored pencils or to put extra time and effort into their written and visual work.

We repeated this process for the remaining sections that we read and reflected upon on Day 2 (Thursday, August 31 and Friday, September 1).  Students received the second page of the graphic organizer upon arrival, and we finished up our reading and reflection work.  They then had the remainder of the period to finish their graphic organizer work if needed before completing a self-assessment of their self-selected best “section” or chunk.

Students completed this self-assessment ticket and stapled it to their work; I’ll collect these next week because students need their graphic organizer work for a creative mini-lit circle poster activity they’ll do in self-selected groups next week as we bring closure to this text before our unit test at the end of the week.  I plan to collect the hard copies of their work, but I plan to introduce Seesaw this month and use this tool for student portfolios and all of their self-assessment work.  In closing, we ended class time with some review questions; those who need extra time for either learning task could finish up at home over our long weekend.

One observation of note:  many students needed me to re-explain the instructions for self-assessment even after we reviewed them together.  I get the sense that this is not because they didn’t understand the instructions, but because many of them have had few opportunities to reflect on their work and explain what they did well in their work.  Some of them would even ask me to read what they wrote and ask me, “Is this good?”; I would read aloud what they had written and then ask them, “What do you think? How do you know?”  As I have blogged earlier this semester, I think it is really important for kids to engage in metacognition about their work and be intentional in evaluating their work and learning how to articulate when they have done something well instead of always looking to me the teacher as the final validation of “good.”

Based on my observations and what I read of the self-assessment as students showed me their work during class, I think this was a successful and meaningful learning activity for all my classes.  I definitely want to do more sketchnoting with students and was inspired by work I read from Shawna Coppola this summer as well as the pleathora of tweets from Tanny McGregor’s session at ILA this past July.    This was honestly my first attempt to introduce it to students, and I intentionally kept it simple for our initial efforts, but I hope to do some more intentional mini-lessons in the future.  These resources are my starting points, and I think you’ll find them helpful as well!

Last but not least, the video recording of Shawna and Tanny’s presentation:

Are you annotating and sketchnoting with students?  What are your best practices and tips?  I hope you’ll share here in the comment space below!