Thursday, January 29, 2015

Visual Notetaking

You may be wondering, "What exactly is visual notetaking?"  Well, it's the idea of representing ideas non-linguistically.  Or, you could say it's a fancy way of drawing pictures to represent what you're thinking.  Either way, it's a great tool to use in the classroom and will engage your learners.

From my experience, kids love to draw and doodle.  So, why not let them do it in an academic subject.  I can get just as much insight into what they know by looking at their visual notetaking versus traditional notetaking.

Visual notetaking can include concept maps and webs, plus utilize fancy lettering, connectors, bullets, frames, peeps, and thought /dialogue boxes.  It can be a combination of words AND pictures to represent ideas.

It's just one more tool that students can use to process information and a tool that you can use as a teacher to asses your student's thinking.

Students can use their visual notetaking to spur discussions about what they're thinking.  Plus, they get to show off their cool drawings to classmates!

There are also some white board applications that allow you to show animation videos which include audio narration that are synchonized to screencasts of your drawings.  How cool is that?  As I delve deeper into this creative way of notetaking, I'll share what I find out as I experiment with the smartboard applications.

If you want to know more, or see more examples, just google "visual notetaking" and there's tons of information out there.  There are even some video tutorials.  Give it a try!

I introduced visual notetaking while reading a novel with my students.  I first explained what it was and asked them, "How would you like to be able to draw pictures AND use words to show what you're thinking?"  A unanimous YES filled the room!

We discussed the anchor chart below which showed different types of symbols they could use in thier visual notes.

We then did some visual note taking together as we processed the first few chapters of the novel. Here is the example of our shared visual notetaking.

It looks like a mess, but that is exactly what visual notetaking looks like.  This is a very spatial and global way of thinking and it may drive some of your students crazy. Some of my own students like neat and orderly notes, and that's OK!  That's how they like to process and think.  Give them a choice and let them decide how they'd like to take notes or respond to a text.  Choices are always a plus in my book!

Here are some examples of my 5th grade reading student's visual notes from the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  Instead of a traditional reading response, I let them do their response in the form of a visual notes.

I LOVE the expressions on the character's faces.  This student uses peeps
 and dialogue boxes to show what happened in the chapter.

This student uses peeps, dialogue boxes and thought bubbles to
show what the characters are thinking and feeling.

This student chose to use peeps with dialogue boxes and thought bubbles,
plus short summaries of each chapter.

Just by looking at these, I could tell my students "get it"!  They could tell me the big ideas from each chapter in a very creative way.  Plus, they LOVED drawing in reading class!

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