Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing authors and educators on the art of visual notetaking aka sketchnoting in education. The following sketchnoting rockstars: Carrie Baughcum, Sylvia Duckworth, Vicki Davis, Sylvia Tolisano, Sunni Brown, and Matt Miller opened my eyes to this new way of capturing text and visuals digitally & on paper to connect and retain information. When I discovered the incredible potential that this could have on learning, I knew I had to give it a try so I could share it with my students! Let me share with you how I began my sketchnoting journey!
Digital or Paper?
When I first began sketchnoting I tried an app called Paper53. This is a wonderful tool to use for visual notetaking. There are a variety of pen choices and colors that allow for creativity and flexibility. It is user friendly and I love how it allows you to fix mistakes and publish to Google Classroom or other platforms with ease. Though I loved the features and user-friendliness that Paper53 had to offer, I found that old-fashioned paper worked best for me. I purchased a square spiral sketchpad, a fine tip Sharpie, and a tin o' colored pencils and I was ready to roll! I loved that I could bring these tools anywhere I went and didn't have to worry about my battery dying. There is something about coloring that I have always loved and I really like being able to personalize my font as well as write and draw in finer detail. However, you may find digitally capturing your notes is best for you! Experiment with a variety of apps and tools and find the best fit!
What should I sketch?
Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend some amazing sketchnoting sessions at ISTE. After these sessions, I decided I needed to get started on my sketchnoting journey right away. The flexibility and freedom of summer seemed to be the perfect time to put these newly learned skills to practice! I had a stack of new books I wanted to read and I thought this would be the perfect place to start. As I sketchnoted chapters, I found that I was connecting my learning at a deeper level as well as retaining more of the information. Additionally, it allowed for creative freedom in my notetaking. I was able to organize and personalize my thoughts in a visually appealing way that I enjoyed looking back at later. I quickly fell in love with this new way of capturing my learning, thoughts, and ideas. Since then, I've sketchnoted PD sessions, TedTalks, and thoughts and ideas that have been rolling around in my brain. The possibilities are endless!
Things to keep in mind!
1. You don't have to be artistic to sketchnote! If you can draw shapes, lines, and stick figures...you're on your way!
2. Remember...visual notetaking is a way for you to connect and retain information. No one else has to understand your drawing but you!
3. Don't worry if sketchnoting doesn't come easily at first! Start with something fun and easy to capture on paper and expand from there! It does get easier and you will soon find your rhythm and the structure that works best for you. You will also find that each sketchnote takes on a personality of it's own; one of my favorite aspects of visually capturing your thoughts and ideas on paper.
I have learned a ton from the sketchnoting rockstars I mentioned above. Click on each of their names to follow their blogs and make sure to follow them on Twitter for inspiration. You will find so many resources and ideas that will help get you started! I am including some of my sketchnotes below so you can visualize what some of mine have looked like. Happy Sketchnoting!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.