Visual Note Taking

“Please can we do something fun?”

This is a student’s familiar plea,  especially when it’s the last block of the day.

The students answered their own question at 3:00pm.

I teach an intensive skills class to 9th graders that only lasts a quarter.  One of our units is on the importance of visual literacy and today I planned a lesson on visual note taking.  I followed Vicki Davis’ lesson plan.  The students were hooked.  When I handed out the white sheets of paper and they chose their markers; the students were as apprehensive as I am when it comes to sketchnoting.  “I can’t draw”.  I quoted what I’d read in an article on sketchnoting for teachers, and told them confidently that if they can draw stick figures and arrows they are well on their way to taking good visual notes.

We discussed the what, why and how ( a great idea from Ross Morrison McGill’s 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers) of  note taking; and a couple of students groaned “Cornell Notes.”  (I didn’t want to spoil their afternoon ‘fun’ by telling them that that was the next strategy we’d be tackling.)

As Davis suggests in her post, the kids watched the following TED talk and sketched their notes.

Yes, they did have fun and were proud of their stick figures, images, arrows, symbols and choice of colors.

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