Visual Note Taking Strategies to Incorporate into Your Classroom

Visual Note taking strategies to incorporate into your classroom to improve comprehension in your grade 5 6 7 students.

Back in what feels like the age of the dinosaurs when I first started teaching, I had a student named Cole. We were reading the novel Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam. During the reading, he was always Doodling = not paying attention. I would stop and try to catch him not able to answer a question or understand an important plot event in the story. Guess what? It never happened. Cole was paying attention. He was able to doodle because the doodling ALLOWED him to pay attention. This observation was a game-changer that I am so glad happened early on in my career.

What are sketch notes, doodle notes or visual note-taking?

       Sketch notes, visual note-taking, doodle notes these are all lingo you may have heard being thrown around in the education world but not quite had a chance to wrap your head around. All three are not the same; however, when used strategically in the classroom, all three can yield tremendous results. To give a very broad definition for all three of these terms, 

Visual note taking strategies to use in your classroom to improve reading comprehension.


Think: representing ideas through pictures.
       It is safe to say that not every teacher will buy into this line of thinking. It is important to remember that we are teaching ALL types of learners, so we should vary our approach to encompass ideas that will pique the interest of all learners. 

Why use a visual note taking method?

       Here are some reasons to incorporate visual notes in your classroom:

If you are nervous about trying this out in your own classroom, the above facts should quell most of your anxieties. It is at least worth trying to change your normal classroom routines. 

How to Use Visual Note Taking in the Classroom:

    Sketchnoting requires students to fully understand the topic they are studying in order to sketch sequentially what is happening. Check out Sketchnoting in the Classroom to learn how to do this effectively.
    Doodles can be in repetitious lines, circles, or other shapes. It can be used to maintain focus or to show knowledge of information. Display the text you are reading on the Smartboard to show underlining, highlighting, and other annotations, but also doodle and sketch what you’re thinking.  Modeling this approach AND telling students they should do the same has helped to increase this skill in my classroom. 
Ways to get kids to show their learning through sketch notes, doodle notes, and visual thinking.

    My use of sketch notes in the classroom is slightly tweaked for most of my students. I found that students in grades 4, 5, and 6 still struggle with the confidence and skill to use this method. For students who need them, I create some or all of the work for them in what may look to the uneducated eye as glorified graphic organizers. They will then take the time to fill it in and color it. Coloring is key as this will help their brains to continue to engage the right and left hemisphere. This method has worked very well for my students. It allows them to summarize key points in what they learned. They can use the graphic organizer later on to study if there is an upcoming assessment. Students are engaged as they are learning. They are happy to review. All of this combines with a learner who has better retained the information. 

Vary learning styles in your classroom by incorporating visual note taking strategies such as sketch notes and doodles to demonstrate understanding



Classroom Uses:

While the possibilities are endless. Here are some ways you can use them:

Are you interested in trying out sketch notes in the classroom? Check out some of these ideas that are ready to use, or you can join my email list below to get instant access to sketch notes that can accompany your moon and lunar phases unit

Try out sketch notes in your classroom today.

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