Today the Documentors will learn the art of Sketchnoting, a technique that can help make thinking visible by putting thoughts and ideas into pictures. As a former doodler (before life with 4 kids and a full time job) I am beyond excited to learn this new tool. On a personal note, I think that it may be a way to help me free my meta-cognitive thinking and an aid to elaborate on my reflections. How will it help me in my classroom? How can it help my students? How can this be useful in art class? Does it have a place in Kindergarten Judaic Studies? I am hoping that this session with Silvia Tolisano will answer some of these questions for me. I know that current research tells us that there is a strong correlation between drawing and memory. Could Sketchnote be the answer to help our students remember key ideas when studying for tests, learning new material, or preparing for presentations?

We began with a challenge of Sketchnoting Silvia’s top 10 Sketchnote Tips. We opened our apps on iPads…Paper in this case, and played around with the tools, numbered our page and were ready to start. Each tip prompted us to write or draw a visual to illustrate her tips.

I love all of the possibilities that Sketchnote has to offer and think that with some practice I could and hopefully will really love it. However this session ended up being a push beyond my comfort zone. Although I love art, doodling and drawing, having a moving, unknown time limit attached, created a sense of stress.

How can I listen, understand, look, learn, draw and experiment all at the same time while doing a good job and feeling proud of my my work? Obviously my multitasking skills have a threshold. I hit a wall.

I was frustrated because I couldn’t predict where I needed to go. This led me to think of one of our 7 habits: Begin with the end in mind. Perhaps if I had known how much room I needed to fit into each section, or if I knew I had 5 minutes per tip, I would have worked more effectively. As always, these PD sessions make me cognizant of our students and the potential barriers and frustrations they face. It is a reminder to make sure that my lessons are built in a way that they can all be set up for success.

Now clearly outside of my comfort zone, how do I jump back in? I moved to analog (paper and pencil) to give myself some perspective and speed in order to catch up, and then slowly eased back onto the iPad. The final result:

My best work…not yet. I am a novice and this is my first attempt. Now it is time to practice what I preach and try again. This is my baseline, a documentation of where I began with Sketchnoting. Just as we document our students progress, this journey is a document of my progress and we all have to start somewhere.

Were my questions answered? In my classes, perhaps Kindergarten students could use it to practice an element of iPad fluency. Maybe they could create a Hebrew word dictionary with a Sketchnoted visual gallery (we are already doing it in analog form), or perhaps students could Sketchnote the Parashat Ha’Shavuah. For Middle School students, an elective course could be offered on developing Sketchnoting skills. The possibilities are endless. For now, I am standing at the tip of the iceberg and the only barrier is my imagination!