My Sketchnoting Journey

I am feeling very fortunate to again be learning with Silvia Tolisano and adding to my repertoire of communication tools and digital literacy.  The challenge of the moment (outside of writing a blog post on the dime), is trying my hand at sketchnoting.  I believe without yet truly studying its function that sketchnoting is an tool that will allow me to create customized, colourful and artistic visuals.  I’m sure it has limitless applications and I look forward to exploring what it can mean for my communications, or as Silvia explains with making thinking visual.

Now onto researching this so I can better understand…

If you too are a beginner, Sunni Brown’s book the Doodle Revolution and Sylvia Duckworth’s How to Sketchnote: A Step-By-Step Manual for Teachers and Students are great springboards.  Sylvia Duckworth also shares these valuable Google Slides on launching your sketchnote efforts: Sketchnoting for Beginners.  It is amazing to witness the endless creativity and depth of thought that work in tandem when Sketchnoting.

Silvia anchored our first attempt at sketchnoting in creating a sketch featuring 10 Sketchnoting Tips.  We used the app Paper by WeTransfer which had several free tools available.  Here is my first creation.

I have to say that I found this exercise exciting and loved the challenge of capturing ideas and reflections in one visual.  I experimented with fonts, pictures, icons, overlaying, the watercolour feature (which was my favourite)  and capturing my ideas succinctly.  I will absolutely revisit sketchnoting and would really like to see what unlocking the other features would invite to the creating.  I would also like a fine-tipped stylus tool so that I can really draw in a more detailed way with more control.  Also, time to find my flow.  I can see that proficiency would allow me to sketchnote in the moment with info informing what I am committing to the sketch (i.e. in a lecture or note-taking at a meeting).  As a novice, I will need more time to better understand all of the ins and outs.  Especially not accidentally erasing part of my sketch by smudging with my hand (left-handers beware), which seems to have inadvertently affected tip #2 of my sketch.

As an educator, I think this would help students, but again, they would need time to first plan and then really create.  I wouldn’t want to create frustration by having a lofty goal as they explore the possibilities.  This would invite opportunities for students at a beginner level to create art, as a mind-mapping opportunity, to make cards or invites, posters, as well as capture their favourite quotes.  I think it could be used as a tool to help a student re-regulate.  It could then after practice be used for mind-mapping and planning out stories, taking notes and other more intensive purposes.

I certainly look forward to practicing and also identifying ways I can sketchnote at school with other educators and students.  No question it is a great addition to my digital literacy toolbox.

First Pineapple Party!

We did it!  We had our first Pineapple PD experience today at OJCS.  We have the extraordinary opportunity to be working with Silvia Tolisano, author of A Guide to Documenting Learning, and so used this as a launch into Pineapple PD.  Mrs. Bennett bravely opened her classroom to a group of interested teachers who documented student learning during an inquiry lesson.  I documented their Pineapple PD experience.

Mrs. Bennett hosting her first Pineapple PD session.

Mrs. Bennett shared that at first she was apprehensive about having other educators come in and see her teaching.  She is of course far more comfortable with just her students.  Well, today she invited a small group of teachers to come in and we all learned so much from both her and her students.

Some of our DocuMENTORS cohort observing.

We all understand as educators how critical sharing ideas and working collaboratively is to our craft and our growth as professionals, and yet classroom visits haven’t been a platform for learning.  What is it about teaching in front of other adults that brings feelings of discomfort?  In an interview with Mrs. Bennett she shares the following:

It reminds me of a time when I was teaching a Grade 2 class dressed as a pirate (eye patch, parrot and all) and reading a story, when an educator from across the hall appeared in my doorway to take in the show.  My first initial response to her seeing me as ‘Captain Keren’ was reticence, with a little dash of worry about what she would think.   There is something very private about how silly, playful, animated and energized we get when we teach.   We take risks in the name of engaging our students in deep learning.  So, the question becomes, can we begin to take those same risks and show our passion for engaging students with others?  Can we tear down the walls and invite others in?  Of course we can, but we need to reframe what being observed means.  We also have to deeply value what it means to our teaching and learning, and the teaching and learning of others.  It makes us better at what we do!  Your successes and expertise shared outward grows others.  Being able to visit others and learn from them stretches us in new directions.

As we prepare to fully launch Pineapple PD at OJCS, I am thrilled that today’s experience was positive for all involved.  I will continue to document our journey as we continue to reach for our North Stars.

Documenting the Pineapple PD journey.


Welcoming Pineapple PD @ OJCS

We are gearing up to launch Pineapple PD here at OJCS in order to move closer to reaching our North Stars.  One of the clearest take-aways from our work last school year with No Tosh was that our faculty felt like they mostly worked in isolation from each other.  One of our guiding North Stars at OJCS is that we learn better together.  So with that in mind we have done much to begin to push through the silos and connect with one another – from EdCamps, to engaging PLNs through the Twitterverse, increasing team contact and even launching prototypes together in varying configurations.  Now we are ready for more collaborative magic through the implementation of Pineapple charts.  We have learned from Jennifer Gonzalez and Mark Barnes and their sharings in Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School.  Our teachers are primed to invite and be invited informally into each others classrooms.  We will begin to identify what parts of our own individualized practice we are trying to evolve and invite learning from one another.  We will also begin to understand what we can be sharing and growing in others.  The possibilities are endless and will make PD a point of engagement that can ebb and flow according to one’s needs and interests.  This lends itself beautifully to another of our carefully selected North Stars, we own our own learning.

Along with visiting author Silvia Tolisano of Langwitches, a cohort of interested OJCS teachers (#TheDocuMENTORS), have been invited to join our Grade 3 class tomorrow to continue to learn the ins and outs of documenting learning.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to set our Pineapple PD in motion and begin to shift the culture of our school.  We have so much to learn from one another and the pineapple chart will invite self-selected opportunities to informally sit in and learn.

We’ll be documenting our Pineapple journey and keep everyone in the loop.  In the meantime, we welcome feedback and comments from others who are a healthy distance down this road.  In terms of thinking about Pineapple charts, has anyone experimented with electronic Pineapple Charts versus a physical chart in a shared area?  Has anyone visited someone’s space virtually to bring Pineapple PD beyond the walls of your school?  Looking so forward to learning together.

Diving in!

It’s been so interesting considering blogging and preparing to take the plunge so to speak.  I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about what to put out there into the universe.  What thoughts and ideas do I want to share?  How do I fit the writing element of this practice into a hectic day?  How do you overcome the permanence of a post?  I am also wanting the artistry of the whole process and appearance to be well thought out and planful.  I have been endlessly climbing to the top of the ladder and edging my way to the end of the diving board and peering into the water down below.

It’s so interesting and healthy being a fledgling at something again.  We tend to lean into what we are naturally good at.  And yet we ask this kind of risk taking of our students all of the time.  It is fundamental to their learning.  So I am both excited and overwhelmed and intrigued to see where this new deep dive takes me.