Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teach Students Visual Note Taking

Students can learn how to take visual notes with just a bit of instruction and practice. Once they know how to do it they should be encouraged to take visual notes in all of their classes as well as activities outside of school. Use visual note taking as a warm up or fill-in at the end of class.

The first step is to encourage students to carry a sketchbook. A small hardbound sketchbook is standard and will last them most of the school year. Fine line markers and pencils are good tools to use. Colored markers or even crayons can be used to add color.

Have students practice doing hand-drawn letters in a variety of styles. This is a skill they will find useful all of their lives.

See how many types of bullets, connectors and frames they can find or imagine. They should try to select appropriate ones to go with the content. Bullets usually refer to black circles (like bullet holes) but can be open squares, stars, hearts or anything that works at a small scale. Comic books use a lot of different frames (thought balloons, jagged "crash" frames, speech balloons, rectangles, squares, ovals, etc.)

In the list on the right "peeps" stands for people. That should include people, places and things. The goal is "Show me, don't tell me". See how many words can be replaced with images and still convey the meaning. Students can play games like "Pictionary" to practice doing quick drawings. A quick shadow on a frame, picture, bullet or connector makes it pop off the page.

Once students see the difference between dry written pages and rich visual note taking they won't be satisfied with the boring old method again.

Click on the heading above to see a comprehensive visual note taking video with some experts that could be used with your students.

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