I believe that students develop thinking skills when we ask them to write, draw, and sketch their thinking out. In my room, I use the app Paper by 53 on the iPad. Students always have the option to jump back to spiral notebooks, and some students do choose that method. But, I scaffold their interaction with the technology and process of sketch noting.
These are my steps with some gorgeous samples by a very talented artist, Millie Pettegrew. She created these amazing sketches using the Paper by 53 app without any stylus.
First, I show students my process in using the Paper by 53 app by mirroring my iPad to the big screen. I demonstrate how to change colors, undo, erase, use shapes, etc. I do this as a guided activity with a science topic. I'm not teaching the software as much as talking and thinking aloud about science WHILE I use the app. I hope that makes sense. During this time, students are periodically looking up at the screen and discussing the science with me.
Here is Millie's example from very early on in the year. We had watched a short news clip about an earthquake in Afghanistan. You'll notice that the drawing is relatively basic with minimal words and just some color, shape, texture changes.
I am a firm believer that for a video to be useful in class, the students must have an opportunity to strictly WATCH the video. Then, we discuss the video. Finally, we watch the video a second time with the sketch noting activity occurring simultaneously.
Students grow in their ability to share details in videos. This shows Millie's growth from the first sketch note done for a video.
Also, I ask students to use sketch notes to make meaning of the reading that they do. I also model this with students. This connection to text is super important. I believe that it gives students necessary practice pulling meaning from text to a visual representation. This is Millie's review of a website about Old Woman Creek.
Another way that we work on science literacy through sketch noting is when students use the process for designing. Giving students an opportunity to map out their ideas in a visual manner connects them to the build. This sketch note was completed by a group of students in my first period class. It shows their initial ideas for a protective placement for an Egg Derby. Not only is the design pretty cool, but the sketch is a gorgeous artwork!
A closing thought...
there are so many ways for student to make meaning in science beyond text notes. Sketch noting is an option for supporting students as they develop science literacy. How else can we use these powerful tools?
Please share your ideas...