May 01

Sketchnotes experiment: Day 1 #edBlogaDay

IMG_6696If you have been following the blog the past month, you know that I have been brainstorming a way to bring sketchnotes/doodling/art journaling to my chemistry classroom. This is a concept I would really like to incorporate next year, so I am piloting it with one of my classes for our last unit of the year.

A week ago, I passed out simple bound books to my students (our “sketchbooks”) and asked them to decorate the covers by Thursday (yesterday). When students got to class yesterday, I asked them to start by walking around the room and looking at each others decorated covers.

I spent the next part of class explaining my big idea for sketchnotes. There is actually a lot of great research supporting the use of doodling in the classroom (like this article from LiveScience that explains Doodling May Draw Students into Science). Next, we watched a short video from Mike Rohde explaining the Sketchnote process. After that, I had a short discussion with students to hear their initial thoughts. The biggest concern students had was making sure they had all of the details of the notes. Since Sketchnoting focuses on the big ideas, they were worried they would miss a detail that would be important for an assessment. Except for that, students seemed pretty open to the idea. I had already anticipated that this would be a concern, so I was happy to tell them that they would receive a packet of completed notes for the unit. (We usually do cloze style notes.)

After watching a longer video of the Sketchnoting process in action, students were ready to try it themselves. They were starting to realize that the visual elements did not require a lot of drawing skill. It is more about doodles and lettering. For our first challenge, I displayed the two standards we will be covering this unit.

  • 13b. calculate temperature, pressure and volume of gases using Charles’ Law, Boyle’s Law, and Gay-Lussac’s Law
  • 13e – use concepts of the mole and Avogadro’s number to calculate the molar volume of gases (GPS)

I then asked students to interpret the standards using sketchnotes based on their prior knowledge and what they thought the standard meant. It was a great way to preview the content of the unit and for students to uncover things they already know.

In the slideshow, you can see some of the decorated covers and initial sketchnotes from students. I think they look amazing for just beginning. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Many students were really excited to have the chance to draw and doodle and were asking if the process could be applied to other classes. Students even suggested I should do this with my students next year!

I am also participating with my students. I think it’s a good idea to model something new (or even well known). I’ve found that students are much more likely to buy in to your crazy ideas if you do it along with them. It shows students that you think it is important enough to do, too. I am so excited to see where this journey takes us, and I hope you’ll continue to follow along!




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  1. bloomingedu

    Janelle, it’s amazing to see all of the different ways your students approached their notebook and notes. Love this quote too “I’ve found that students are much more likely to buy in to your crazy ideas if you do it along with them. It shows students that you think it is important enough to do, too.”

    1. Janelle

      I was so excited to see what they have created. I’m hoping by having notes that are personal students will be more likely to interact with them outside of class and study in a way that’s more focused.

  2. Sheri Edwards

    This is a wonderful idea — some kids will find it hard, but I always remind my students when I integrate sketching, “it’s a sketch, not a final art project.” You’re right about the research, and as a teacher of Language Arts, I know that sketching builds comprehension, analysis, and synthesis, especially if the students share their sketches and explain them to each other. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Janelle

      Yes! We talked about that in class. A sketchbook is not a final piece of art. It’s okay if it is rough or if there are mistakes. I think because of this students are much more open to diving in. I heard so many kids exclaim they haven’t spent much drawing in years. I am so excited to keep going with this. I can’t wait to put a sketchbook on my supply list for students’ next year if this is a success!

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