I want to start out by sharing that I am by no means an expert on the topic of sketchnotes and visual note-taking. However, if you are anything like me and are constantly looking for new strategies to try with your students then sketchnotes might be worth a try. For several years I’ve tried to find an activity to wrap up our conversation in class about consent and sexual harassment that would allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the topic in a way that allowed students the choice in how they presented the material. I’ve never been a fan of tests and quizzes so that wasn’t going to work. I tried zines last semester. Those turned out pretty well but didn’t exactly fit what I was looking for. Then I stumbled across an article about sketchnotes.
Sketchnoting works by accessing parts of your brain that would be unused if you only used words to represent your thoughts. The process of adding both visuals and words to the note-taking process is what is so beneficial to the learning process. Sketchnotes also give students a choice in how the present their learning. I often find students are more interested and engaged in activities when they have voice and choice in their learning. As an added bonus, drawing and coloring are proven strategies to reduce stress and anxiety!
Using Sketchnotes to teach Consent
As I shared earlier, I happened across sketchnotes and thought it would be a perfect way for my class to wrap up our discussions about consent. The article I read discussed how sketchnotes could be used to recap and review learning. We had gone through a few days of conversation about consent, coercion, sexual harassment, Title IX rights, and community resources. What I really wanted to know was what had my students learned and what they found was the most important information. So I asked them a question. What is the most important information about consent people should know? That was all I wanted to know. The rest of it was up to them. They got to choose what they put into their notes and how they represented it!
Questions I was asked
What if I’m not good at drawing?
That’s okay! Sketchnotes allow you to represent your learning in a way you choose. Super artistic and love to draw? Great! Prefer to use mostly written notes? That works too! You get to decide what your sketchnotes look like and what is in them.
What should be in my notes?
Show me what you think were the most important and valuable pieces of our conversation. What would you want others to know about consent from your notes?
How should I put my notes on the paper?
You decide the best way to put the information down. Do what makes sense to you!
I was really impressed with what my students came up with and it allowed me to see what they thought was important and what I might have needed to do a better job covering in class. My students even came up with the idea of using sketchnotes as a resource to pass along to middle school students. If you’re looking for a way to provide some voice and choice in the classroom then maybe give sketchnotes a try!
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