Sketchnoting and Interactive Notebooks
I can remember sitting in school and doodling during class while daydreaming of being somewhere else. Although many of my doodles were unrelated to what was being presented in the classroom, the skill of sketching is one that provides real benefits to learning.
Sketchnoting is a technique that is rising in popularity in large part because of its effectiveness in helping students recall information.
What is Sketchnoting?
It is a process where the listener or reader takes notes in visual form rather than using traditional text. This note-taking process can be performed either as the speaker gives the lecture or afterward when sketches are made from general notes. It can also be used when reading a text to record the gist of the information so that it can be more easily recalled. As a teacher, I had the main ideas of a lesson introduced to my students by sketching on the board -or sometimes on a sheet of paper under the document camera- while I was talking about the topic being introduced to activate prior knowledge.
How Sketchnoting Works?
Primarily this form of visual note-taking works because it activates different parts of the brain. By adding a layer of visual cues to the auditory and text information, it becomes easier to recall the information that has been listened or read. It also helps to understand better the concepts that have been presented. For example, seeing something demonstrated is far easier to grasp that only reading text information. By having visual clues provided by sketchnoting of the ideas presented, one is adding to the understanding of the subject matter.
Why use Sketchnoting?
- Works for Text, Image, & Structure: You can highlight the most important part of text notes through sketches. Plus, the images created will help students remember unfamiliar words or concepts so that they can recall them later. Sketchnoting helps students better understand the structure of some processes and are perfect when using maps, charts, or graphs.
- Playful & Enjoyable: It is considerably more interesting to take notes by creating images rather than writing down words. By engaging the more creative side of the brain, it becomes a very enjoyable way to take otherwise boring notes.
- Condensing Materials: The old saying that a picture is worth 1000 words becomes real when you can condense long text notes into a single visual image. In this manner, you can genuinely summarize essential ideas into easy to remember visual images.
- Learning a New Language: Sketchnoting is a fundamental note-taking technique when learning a new language. It helps students visualize the necessary information and make the required connections. Additionally, retention of new concepts and ideas moves from 10% to 65% just by just adding a picture.
In the end, sketchnoting is an excellent way to organize crucial information for the students, allowing them to recognize patterns and better understand the material that is being presented.
The following video summarizes the benefits of using sketchnoting in the classroom:
Sketcho Frenzy: The Basics of Visual Note-taking
Sketchnoting and Interactive Notebooks in the Style of Leonardo da Vinci
For more than 40 years, Leonardo da Vinci gathered his observations and ideas in his now famous ‘Notebooks.’ They include over 100,000 drawings and more than 6,000 pages of notations. Students that create and maintain an interactive notebook in the style of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks have a powerful tool that can be used to make connections and expand their understanding of the world around them. Teachers that promote the use of interactive notebooks in their classrooms will be fostering higher order of thinking and increasing comprehension and retention in their students. Sketching, labeling, and coloring as forms of note-taking have a radical impact on creative problem-solving and deep information processing. These types of notebooks not only become enabling tools that create windows to the world and promote creativity, but they are also an excellent instrument for tracking and assessing students’ learning.
Using sketchnoting and interactive notebooks in the style of Leonardo da Vinci helps students to develop visual literacy while increasing understanding and retention. They facilitate learner-centered assessment with activities that dynamically involve students in a constant reflection on what is being learned, how it is being learned, and why it is being learned. Best of all, in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, these notebooks help in developing a “Complete Mind” which, according to Leonardo, could be achieved by following these steps:
– Study the science of art
– Study the art of science
– Develop your senses (especially learn how to see)
– Realize that everything connects to everything else
Here are some examples of how to model sketchnoting to your students.
In my next post, I will recommend some apps to help you implement this strategy beyond pencil and paper, and how to use the final product with the augmented reality app HP Reveral.
Speaking of sketchnoting and interactive notebooks, I am excited to share that I will be conducting a new full-day professional development workshop called Three Steps to Mastering Academic Vocabulary with ELLs, which will provide participants with concrete examples of how to incorporate these strategies into their lessons. If you are in the area of Dallas or McAllen, I’d love to see you there. For more information about my workshops go here.