I started reading about bullet journaling last year. Not a new concept, but I was drawn to it's evolution. The blending of art and list making - right up my alley! About that time, I noticed Sylia Duckworth's sketchnotes popping up everywhere. My mind went straight to how can I get folks on board with this type of organizing and notetaking? I mean, as an adult, drawing pictures is seen as something you do when you are off-task in a meeting, right? The attitude is the same in classrooms across the country. THAT is what started to get to me.
In February, I attended #iPDX in Portland, Oregon. The keynote speaker was Sunni Brown, author and a Doodler. I loved the message she delivered that morning, and it drew me into her packed session later that morning on the power of Doodles.
Yep - doodles. There I go again. What on earth does doodling have to do with education? It's not innovative...right? I'd argue that it is.
Immediately after returning from #iPDX, I headed to NCTIES,. There someone snapped a picture of me in a quiet corner. Because they couldn't get my attention, they posted the pic and called me out on Twitter. They saw someone engrossed in something so I felt compelled to share - on Twitter - my first sketchnote. You see, I wasn't just lost in thought or playing on my phone, I was making my sketchnote after the opening keynote. I shared with the world...put it right out there. Was it perfect? No way! But I wanted folks to see that I was doing something productive.
Perception is a powerful thing - and it can be wrong.
How often when students are deeply connected to something, fully engrossed in what looks like off task behavior, are we quick to judge and make them do something WE think they should be doing instead?
I felt strongly that I needed to do something to change this; to get teachers, and other school leaders, to think about what they allow students to do to demonstrate understanding. Are teachers allowing choice? Are we building a culture of compliance or learning?
I came back from Portland and NCTIES ready to build some professional development on this. I figured if I could get a few teachers on board with what this process can do for THEM, then allowing doodles in classrooms would be next!
I'm such a Pollyanna sometimes.
What I was met with was strange looks when I talked about it. A few that I shared my doodles with were interested, but I silenced my dream. The time wasn't right. I kept plugging along, sharing the doodle love, taking my notes then synthesizing them adding images to help me remember key points.
But I decided I needed to create something different.
This summer, I facilitated a book study on The Innovator's Mindset.. With each part of the book came a challenge to the participants. Challenge one was a #booksnap. I chose this because it is something that teachers and students can do in any content area...and they don't need Snapchat. We talked about different ways to do this...it has taken off! I think we will see more of this in the upcoming school year.
Challenge two was to sketchnote some element of Part II. You should have seen the looks on their faces. I got the predictable, "I can't draw" and the firm "I'm not going to do this." I shared ways to do this that didn't involve drawing - photos and pre-made art in some apps allow this to be done digitally. I believe in giving multiple ways for folks to complete a task because IT'S BEST FOR LEARNERS!!!
One of my favorite passages from Part II of The Innovator's Mindset says,
"We rarely create something different until we experience something different."
When we met to discuss Part II, after sharing how completing the challenge made them feel, I pointed them to that passage. I asked them to think about students...could they think of a student that would LOVE to take on a task or take notes if they know that they could draw? Everyone of us could.
At the EdTechTeam's GSuite Summit last month, one of the interesting take always for me was the research that shows we learn MORE when NOT in our preferred learning modality. As educators, we try to identify students "learning styles" so we can make sure we design activities with them in mind. But what if the best way to grow them is to challenge them to learn OUT of their comfort zones.
I definitely pushed people out of their comfort zone with the sketchnote challenge. Radical, I know...but our brains are wired to remember things that we enjoy or hate; things that bring us comfort or discomfort. We internalize those moments and what we learn in them. My hope is the folks involved in this book study remember this sketchnoting strategy exists and can get a few others to embrace is as a choice as they craft tasks and activities for students.
I'm presently struggling with how I'm going to create a different experience for the Part III challenge. I have a little time as this new school year is about to take off and these educators have busy days ahead. I need to find something that can ultimately make a difference for the students they work with daily.
Here's to hoping that this year, some students can "experience different" and find their path to learning.