Monday, June 4, 2018

#AlwaysInBeta: The Many Faces of Sketchnotes


Sketchnotes have become quite the rage among educators. Sylvia Duckworth's Sketchnotes for Educators and Cate Tolnai's #sketch50 movement have gone a long way in getting educators on the sketchnotes bandwagon. I, for one, have drunk the sketchnotes Kool Aid.

Working with students and sketchnoting, I discovered sketchnotes to be a bit of a EDU Swiss Army Knife. Sketchnotes encourage students to make notes, not take notes. When I say take notes, I am referring to students copying factoids from a presentation, article or textbook. By making student thinking visual, creativity is injected into the "note making" process. With that in mind, I discovered that sketchnotes can be a form of assessment.

Many times this school year, quizzes consisted a blank piece of white paper, pencil, black marker, colored pencils and a prompt. As a teacher, these were much more enjoyable to grade, not to mention easier on the eye. Sketchnotes have permeated our school's push for Focused Note Taking, the next iteration of Cornell Notes. Sketchnotes have become one of the many options student may choose when making Focused Notes. 

Academic Conversations have become a huge push in our district. While working with innovative High School Science teacher Dana Jobe, we devised a way to use sketchnotes as a launchpad for Academic Conversations. Dana has her students view sketchnotes on and, in partners, students have to explain the symbolism for 90 seconds to a partner who has to probe and prompt to make sure they speak for the whole 90 seconds. In addition, Dana and I also began using sketchnotes in concert with Flipgrid as a method of review. Students take their sketchnotes and verbally summarize the symbolism used on Flipgrid. 

Students, organically, have developed some patterns creating sketchnotes. In doing so, they  used sketchnotes to hand draw their own graphic organizers.  These organic graphic organizers are based on "main ideas" students see within the topic. One pattern I have noticed, I like to call "Pinwheel" style. In this style, students write the title or topic in the middle and circle it. From there, based on the amount of "main ideas", they draw lines radiating outward creating a space for each "main idea".  Each "main idea" is then color coded and shaded. 

Another sketchnotes-graphic organizer pattern, popular among students, I like to call "Jigsaw" style. Students begin by writing and boxing their title at the top, middle of the page. From there, they draw jigsaw puzzle style lines to create spaces to sketch the main ideas. Each piece of the jigsaw puzzle is color coded and shaded a different color. 

A number of students have developed a, what I call, "Comic Book" style. For this pattern, students write and box their title in the top left corner. From there, based on "main ideas", they draw boxes like a comic strip in which they will sketch each main idea. This is best use when sketching a process, series of events or flow chart. Each box in the comic strip is color coded and shaded a different color. 

One of my favorite student-generated sketchnote-graphic organizers is what I like to call "Rainbow" style. Students draw a line in the top left corner creating a triangle in which to write their title. From there, they draw lines diagonally across the paper, parallel to the first line creating a rainbow stripe pattern across the paper. Like the other patterns, each stripe is shaded and color coded. This is useful for topics that have a lot of information to convey and symbolize.