Sketchnoting has become a buzzword in education. Visual depictions of information meet the needs of more learners and stretch the processing of highly linear and word-focused learners like myself. I can barely read a book, blog post, or Twitter feed without seeing beautiful and organized sketchnotes.
There are many wonderful educational resources about the benefits of sketchnotes, apps or techniques to use, or the process of creating sketchnotes. I am particularly fond of Kathy Shrock’s Sketchnoting in the Classroom guide, Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnotes for Beginners presentation and her inspirational sketchnotes themselves.
I am a traditional and linear notetaker and sketchnoting is a challenge for me; it forces me to think differently and organize my thoughts as I go. This is different from my traditionally passive note taking in which I scribe the experience and occasionally process later.
I have been working on making information sharing in the classroom a more interactive experience. When I discovered sketchnoting, I knew that I wanted to try it out! I experimented with sketchnotes at the NOAA/NCAR Climate Conference in Boulder, CO this summer.
Sketchnoting required focus and sometimes drew me away from the speaker or topic at hand to process. I enjoyed the constant reflection, but worried that I may have missed critical information or conversations.
Additionally, I often needed time to finish my sketchnotes after the session or discussion. I liked that this forced me to continuing processing rather than desert the topic immediately after the session, but it was also time-consuming.
Please keep in mind that sketchnoting like any type of learning experience is deeply personal and this is simply my experience with sketchnotes. In spite of how beneficially challenging sketchnotes were for me, I contemplated how they could transfer to my Earth Science classroom.
Then I remembered that I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, I had already seen sketchnotes in my classroom.
Sketchnotes from an Earth Science Student
A few years ago, before sketchnoting was popular, I had a student who created incredible visual notes. When he left my class, I asked if I could keep his notebook, and he said yes. This year he is a senior and I asked him if I could share his notes online, and he generously agreed.
To my surprise and delight, we had a few minutes to chat about his plans after graduation. He shared that he had been thinking about biochemical engineering but over the summer had changed his plans and was planning to go to school to be a science teacher.
I wanted to share some of his notes as an example of sketchnoting that is unplanned and undecorated while still being a fantastic display of information. Other notes that I have seen online are more beautiful, but I have long sought out examples to show students that were simple and science-specific. These sketchnotes don’t require a separate lesson plan, technology, or color. For me, their beauty is in their simplicity.
I didn’t want to create unrealistic and anxiety-inducing expectations by showing them spectacular sketchnotes. My intention is to show my students real sketchnotes that someone created while standing in their shoes. I am sharing my student’s notes with you in hopes that they assist other teachers and students in making sketchnoting feel achievable and meaningful.
Ozone and Atmosphere
Types of Fronts
Hydrocarbons and Combustion
Basic Chemistry Part 1
Basic Chemistry Part 2
The Stellar Life Cycle
What is your experience with sketchnoting? Have you tried it on your own or in your classroom? How did your students respond? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!