Teaching: Sketchnotes

I am an avid Pinterest user, which as most people know can get dangerously addicting.  I have tried lately to channel my Pinterest addiction into something useful, so I have been scouring teaching pins.  Lesson planning at the beginning of the school year with a four month old can be a little bit scary, but I think I stumbled onto something AWESOME!

Sketchnotes are all the rage in tech land.  (BUT It's crazy hard to find examples that aren't done by insane artists or about conference type things.) Being a high school English teacher, I see that not all students are bullet and list note-takers.  This year I wanted to provide more options for notes, instead of just showing the same PowerPoint over and over.  That used to be tech savvy and hip... now the kids are bored of it! So I took last year's version of the notes and voila, I transformed them!

This is my teacher version of the notes we took today.  

These are the pre-reading notes that we discuss before reading "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.  They are fairly short notes (3 literary terms and 3 "buzz words"), so I thought they would be ideal to try this new strategy with.

I began the lesson by showing the students some google image examples of sketch notes. I explained to them that sketchnotes were just a technique in lieu of traditional note-taking.  I allowed those linear thinkers to take notes in traditional bullets. 
I drew the sections on the board for them and actually sketched the notes out along with them.  (I modeled them this time, and I think I will the next couple of times I use this technique.) Eventually, I think my sophomores could do this without my guidance (and my terrible art skills). 

We took these notes in our interactive notebooks (composition books). 

Below is an actual student copy.  I think it was a successful day of notes! 
Our notes covered:
Irony: dramatic, situational, and verbal
Buzz words: tradition, community, lottery

PS Yes, I used Buffy as an example of situational irony!

Tell me, have you used this technique before? Would you be willing to try it in class?


  1. I started this last year with great results! Stick with it all year; you will be pleasantly pleased with what you see. My students showed remarkable growth in analysis and synthesis.
    Here is a link to my efforts: http://dothgrin.net/2013/04/sketchnotes-changing-in-class-note-taking/

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I love the teacher guide that you created. I want to use it to share with my department. :)

  2. I am a high school teacher that just found Sketchnotes too. I would love to learn how this is going and any tips or tricks you're willing to share. I want to start incorporating this into my teaching as well.


    1. Stewart, I am finding that a lot of my students have really taken to this idea. In fact, some of them want to do all of their work in this crazy visual-hybrid format. However, I didn't realize how many in the box kiddos I have! There are a ton that are begging my to do plain Jane notes! Hopefully, I can get a few more good lessons under my belt and post an update with some samples soon!

  3. DO either of you have an Edmodo page for sketchnotes started? Would be a great place to collaborate...I am also teaching sketch notes to my students I have a mindmapping edmodo page but maybe we can use that.....let me know amodion@pvpusd.k12.ca.us

    1. We don't use Emodo at the high school level in our district. We use Blackboard, but I would love to hear how sketch notes are going for others. We are on a brief pause for notes, while we do research! :/


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