Long-Term Learning Strategy: Sketchnotes

This is the fourth in a series of posts highlighting classroom strategies that support long-term, profound learning, rather than short-term, superficial learning.  The previous posts are linked below.

In Article V: Organizational Transformation we recognize the necessity for students to take ownership of their own learning.  And, as they advocate for their own learning, the students self-manage and monitor the gap between their current understanding and the goal of transfer. We hold that: V.j Profound learning (owning the knowledge) as opposed to superficial learning (short-term memory) comes more from engagement and commitment than from various forms of compliance, coercion, sanctions, or rewards.  

If the classroom is a micro-version of a greater learning organization, it is the educators’ responsibility to create the conditions and capacities most conducive for [students as] leaders, [students as] teachers, and students [themselves] to perform at high levels and meet the expectations of new learning standards.  In doing so, educators incorporate opportunities for students to prioritize content, sifting through the granular information to arrive at the big ideas.  These big ideas are those that lead to profound, long-term learning.  These big ideas serve as a vehicle in which learners transfer understanding and meaning making as they encounter new tasks in previously chartered territory.

Sketchnoting is a learning strategy that students may use to annotate and articulate their thinking, focusing on the big ideas of the learning experiences.  Through the use of images, color, text, and connectors, the students paint a picture of their thinking.  If you have asked yourself any of these questions below, I encourage you to try Sketchnoting with your students:

How do I support students to identify and make connections to the big idea?

How do I support students to recall the most important content in order to make connections to future learning?

How do I support students to advocate for, and manage, their own learning?

Sketchnoting is not about being an artist.  It is not about perfection.  Sketchnoting is about articulating on paper (or digitally with an app) the imagery that comes to mind when learning a concept or idea.

Similar to anchor charts or graphic organizers, the goal is to clearly, succinctly organize the most important aspects of a learning experience so that it will be remembered and more importantly, accessed in the future.  In this case, the students may access the product of the sketchnoting physically in some filing cabinet or virtual space, but truly accessing means when encountering future learning, the student accesses this learning in order to make connections.

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Sketchnoting Tips

  1. Practice.  Use books, articles, TED Talks, or your favorite television episode to practice the art of sketchnoting.  Focus on structure, organization, and picking out those most important few ideas and how they are connected.
  2. Use Color.  Some sketchnotes are completed in black and white, but color adds a level of emphasis and symbolism that supports learning, memory, and intentionality.
  3. Make Connections.  Draw arrows, use lines, or somehow otherwise make actual connections between and among the content.  Look for relevant connections that  aid in sense making.
  4. Be Proud of Yourself.  After you complete your first sketchnote, save it.  Congratulate yourself.  You have created an outward sign of abstract understanding and that is something to be proud of!
  5. Adjust.  If something doesn’t work, change it.  You may discover you prefer pen and paper over digital sketchnoting.  You may realize you appreciate Notability for it’s unlimited length over Paper‘s constraining size.  Whatever it is, if it isn’t working, change it.
  6. Share.  Even though your sketchnotes are your own, share them.  It is through publishing to a greater audience that we are able to receive feedback.


Want to Learn More?

I encourage you to download Sketchnoting for Teaching and Learning by Dr. Reshan Richards and Others as well as follow Karen Bosch on Twitter.

Also, share the sketchnotes you create (and more importantly, those your students create)!

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