I’ll never forget the first time I saw Giulia Forsythe’s sketchnotes. It was like the initial moment I saw Roberto Alomar go to his right to snag a ground ball and throw across his body to first. Or the first moment I perked my ears up for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Inspired would be the most optimal word.
I’ve never contemplating learning the same way again. Giulia probably has no idea about the kind of spark she lit. Her open sharing impacted me and, thus, my students greatly.
But then came Amy.
And perhaps the person I’ve learned from the most, Sylvia.
If you ask me what a “21st Century” or “Modern” Learner looks like to me, I would say it’s someone who has the self-efficacy to cope with, if not thrive under, the demands of both a metaphorical and literal blank page. Teaching students how to sketchnote continues to be one of my greatest experiences as an educator because I’ve seen with my own eyes how the skill supports this “blank page mindset”. Imagine being confident at grabbing a pen or a stylus and documenting your own thinking, or explaining your ideas to another. I’m still learning myself, but a few people have asked, “How, exactly, do you teach it to them?”
First of all, I’ve learned that it is much more an act of facilitation than one of explicit, technical teaching. You need your learners to leverage one another as a collaborative group and give them plenty of time to get messy in their sketchbooks. When sketchnoting is going well with your group, you will notice:
- a lot of positive risk-taking and learning off one another;
- no pencils and no erasers (literally and figuratively)
- a sharp focus on clarity and simplicity over “artistic” detail;
- non-evaluative language;
- time to reflect.
Like all creative endeavours, sketchnoting is both a communal and private activity all at once. So students need to be nurtured more than taught in the traditional sense.
Below are sketchnoting resources I’ve created which you are welcome to use. Share and share alike, please.
- An album of sketchnoting from my students.
- A Google Folder of teacher resources.
- A site of resources I created.
- Some of my sketchnotes.
Also published on Medium.