Recently, I saw this image on Pinterest and I was immediately drawn to it, probably because I’m a doodler myself. It led me to watch this TEDtalk by Sunni Brown: Doodlers, Unite! During her talk, she presents some pretty solid points about why doodling helps us to think. My favourite quote is this one: We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but in reality, it is a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus. Additionally, it has a profound effect on creative problem-solving and deep information processing. Well.
I kept looking and found, A Field Guide to TED Graphic Notes, by Becky Chung. She states that graphic note-taking requires the doodler to not only actively listen to the information presented, but also to synthesize it and then create personal meaning–sounds like a pretty amazing critical thinking exercise, doesn’t it?
All of this makes me think of Jarrod, a kid I had in a grade twelve class about ten years ago. He would sit at the front of the room and doodle, making amazing intricate cartoons of everything I said. He was amazingly talented and I would tell him so every day. But I never gave him any credit for it. In fact, he barely passed the course, because he didn’t pass many assignments in.
When I was teaching Jarrod, I was putting so much of my focus on only one of the strands of our ELA curriculum: writing. I used reading and viewing as my “source” but would always assess my students through their writing. Yes, I gave a nod to representing at the end of a unit, allowing students to do a project as an “add on”, never to really represent their learning.
Thankfully, times –and I– have changed, and we are giving more weight to all three strands of the curriculum (reading/viewing, writing/representing and speaking/listening). Doodling. as pointed out by Sunni Brown in her TEDtalk, hits every one of those quite nicely. Imagine if I had given Jarrod credit for all of those lovely doodles that were proof he was listening, focused, engaged and learning? He would have gotten a better grade on his report card, but he would also have felt better about himself because I would have acknowledge his learning in a way that I didn’t through tests and writing assignments. So sorry, Jarrod.
One of my new year plans is to explore this whole idea of graphic note-taking with my students. I’ve done a little bit with my Macbeth posters, but I want to explore it further. Stay tuned for updates!
What do you think? How do you reach your visual and tactile learners? What creative ways do you use to assess learning? I’d love to hear from you!
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