#LearningInTheLoo: Sketchnoting

This week’s edition is all about sketchnotes:

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Thanks to Jody Meacher for letting me include her sketchnote in the poster.

The archive of Learning in the Loo posters you can use is found here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

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3 Act Math #Sketchnote

I was looking back at a blog post from last year showing a short video I made explaining what 3 Act Math tasks are & how they work. This lesson structure is the brain child of Dan Meyer. I decided to put together a sketchnote on the topic:

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Here’s video of Dan Meyer himself facilitating a high school level 3 act math task: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2013/teaching-with-three-act-tasks-act-one/

Here’s a video of an elementary level 3 act math task: https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/05/13/modeling-with-math-nsf/

Want some 3 act math tasks to try? Have a look through:

Finally, are you interested in trying your hand at sketchnoting yourself? Or just want to learn more about it? Read my recent post on the topic here.

What is your favourite 3 act math task of all time? Leave a comment in the section below!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Sketchnoting: what is it & how can I get started? #Sketchnote #Sketchnoting

What is sketchnoting?

If you’re a teacher on Twitter, chances are you’ve seen at least one sketchnote, if not many. What is a sketchnote?

Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines.

Mike Rhode (The Sketchnote Handbook)

The best way to figure out what makes a sketchnote? Go look through a whole lot of them! On Twitter (no account needed) look up #sketchnote to see many different examples & styles across different disciplines. Teachers in particular seem to have taken strongly to this visual note-taking method as a way of sharing ideas and tools.

You don’t have to be a fancy artist to sketchnote. In fact, sometimes simple stick figures make the best illustrations for a sketchnote! Can you draw a stick man? Then you can draw! As Mike Rohde says, sketchnotes are about “ideas, not art“.

To see some examples of the sketchnotes I’ve created, have a look here.

Why should I sketchnote?

Sketchnoting, for me, primarily serves as a way to take notes, but more visually. It helps me remember what I’ve read, heard or seen. It helps me to organize ideas. It’s primary function is as a record, for me! When I think they might also be useful to others – and turn our nice enough – I share them on Twitter so other teachers can learn from them too. I often get teachers asking if it’s OK to print them up as posters for their classrooms or staff rooms – I always say yes of course!

Having trouble building a PLN on Twitter? Create a sketchnote & share it on your Twitter account with #sketchnote. People go crazy for sketchnotes & they get retweeted & shared way more than my usual tweets.

If you’re interested in some of the research that supports an activity like sketchnoting (Dual coding theory, handwriting vs typing notes, etc.) check out Kathy Schrock’s excellent collection of background research here.

What can I sketchnote?

My suggestion to start? Ted Talk videos. Choose your favourite Ted Talk or use this one I often suggest: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. The advantage of sketchnoting videos to start (as opposed to live talks) is that you can rewind & replay as many times as you like to capture the ideas you want in your sketchnote.

There is no end to the things we can sketchnote:

When should I sketchnote; live or afterwards?

This is a personal choice. But to start I recommend sketchnoting after the fact or sketching things that you can pause, rewind & look back at. Sketching live during a talk is a whole other ball game, adding the stress of time constraint into the mix. But fun – so give it a shot when you’re ready!

What do I need to get started?

  • Paper
  • Writing implement; pen, marker or pencil – you choose

People often think they need an iPad and fancy stylus to make a decent sketchnote. And while many of the sketchnotes we see accompanying articles on edu-websites are made on a tablet, you absolutely don’t need one! Just grab your favourite writing implement and an 8.5 x 11 sheet of printer paper to get started. These days, my own analog toolkit is fine-tipped & regular-tipped permanent black markers and a set of crayola markers to colour, highlight & accent with. Lately I’ve been drawing in a blank paged notebook that’s maybe 6″ x 9″?
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When I do work digitally I use my (now very old & cracked) iPad and a ~20$ disc-tipped stylus I bought off Amazon. On my iPad I use the Paper by FiftyThree app. For smaller drawings on my Android phone I use the Bamboo Paper app.
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How do I sketchnote?

Decide on a layout: There are many different layouts you can try such as popcorn, radial, columns, paths, etc. But as an easy starter try this one:

Create a title: In big writing either at the top of the page or smack in the middle, write the title of the video, book or whatever it is you’re sketchnoting. If it’s a talk given by a person, it helps to write their name & their twitter handle too.

Now as you listen or read, write down the biggest, most important ideas and/or quotes. Try to use as few words as possible (I’m still working on that skill). Leave some room nearby for a drawing or two.

Either as you go, or afterward, add some drawings next to each idea or quote. Pick the keyword from that text & sketch it. Stuck for ideas? Search words on the Noun Project to get ideas for simple icons that are easy to draw. If you still insist you can’t possibly draw, then here’s a little something for you:

Add colour by using highlighters or markers. Either by drawing over top of black text or by colouring in your drawings, or separating ideas using coloured boxes, etc. You can use many colours, or stick to just one!

Use shapes as containers to separate and emphasize ideas.

Use lines to connect & divide ideas.

If you think you might share your work online, put your name on it somewhere (& your Twitter handle if you have one).

Check out this great sketchnote summary of the above info by Shauna Burnie:

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Source: https://imperfectmasterpiece.weebly.com/blog/making-media-4-sketchnoting

Where can I share my sketchnotes?

I really encourage you, no matter how bad you think your sketchnotes are, to share them on Twitter. Or with colleagues. Or show them to a friend at the very least. Take an image of your paper sketchnotes using your cell phone and post them to Twitter with the hashtag #sketchnote!

Who can I follow to learn more?

Sylvia Duckworth gave the first sketchnoting workshop I ever attended. If you’ve seen sketchnotes on edu-blog articles, they were likely hers. She’s a force!

Marie-Andrée Ouimet gave the 2nd sketchnoting workshop I attended (with Joel Charlebois) and even let me follow her back to the final keynote for the conference to watch how she sketchnotes live on the spot. En plus, elle est animatrice d’un podcast – La Folie du Sketchnote – sur lequel elle parle avec des enseignants de toutes sortes qui sont en train d’intégrer le sketchnote soit dans leur salle de classe avec leurs élèves ou pour eux même.

Mike Rohde as the author of the seminal Sketchnote Handbook is a good follow. I like following him because he shares a lot of news and ideas on sketchnoting beyond the edu-sphere.

Wendi Pillars is the author of a great book that explores ways teachers can get their students sketchnoting in the classroom; called Visual Note-Taking for Educators.

Kathy Schrock has a great page chock-o-block full of resources related to sketchnoting worth checking out.

I hope you’ll give sketchnoting a try!
I hope you’ll come back here & share your sketchnote in the comments below.
And know that it’s normal to be frustrated by your first attempts not turning out quite as spectacular as you’d like them to.

My first try:
first try
. . . and now:
Thinking Classroom Sketchnote 14 elements

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Top Tweets from 2017

Earlier this week I wrote a round-up of my top blog posts of the year. Today I wanted to do the same for tweets. I headed over to analytics.twitter.com to see which of my tweets had the most impressions/views & interaction/clicks.

A sketchnote I did of the George Couros keynote at our school board’s Digital Lead Learner Conference:

Two tweets as I started sketchnoting Peter Liljedahl’s research on VNPS, VRG & the Thinking Classroom:

This sketchnote of Peter’s full Thinking Classroom framework back when it had 11 elements only:

My school was chosen to host a [surprise] visit from Malala Yousafzai. I sketched some of the quotes from her talk afterwards to commemorate the event:

It’s been the year of Peter Liljedahl & the Thinking Classroom. It seems anything I post on the topic, teachers go nuts for it:

This tweet I wrote while at the OAME Conference – a quote from the first workshop I attended on day 1 – went crazy … engendering a lot of support for the idea as well as some folks who think we’ve missed the mark by moving away from memorizing & recalling:

Also from OAME:

And this one looking forward to the next OAME:

This sketchnote of Judy Larsen & Peter Liljedahl’s research on the #MTBoS community . . .

. . . which was interesting timing given the great debate of #MTBoS vs #iTeachMath that started the next day:

This sketchnote got some good traction despite posting it during summer vacation in July:

Teachers out for Pride Parade; we led the parade, just in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself:

This news from Desmos:

This idea for a 3 Act Math task I did with my gr.10 applied class. A shout-out here for drawing your own diagrams to insert into activities & tests (I used the Paper by Fifty Three app on an old iPad for this one):

A cool new tool I discovered via Alice Keeler’s blog (a must-subscribe):

Getting back on the #ObserveMe bandwagon. Even got a couple of visitors!

Sketchnote of Peter Liljedahl’s keynote at the OAME Leadership Conference in the fall:

Followed by an updated version of my Thinking Classroom sketchnote to show the now 14 elements that Peter has included in the framework:

This visual I made of a quote from our vice-principal that resonated with me:

Tweeting out the sketchnotes I made for the #DitchSummit digital conference were well received & shared:

And finally, this tweet that I sent out just last night seems to have struck a chord:

What have I noticed from all this?

  1. Peter Liljedahl’s Thinking Classroom framework – including VNPS & VRG – is still fascinating teachers all over even 3 years after I first learned about it & started to implement it in my own classroom.
  2. People go crazy for sketchnotes – something about the ability to share a complex, broad topic in one single image. You gotta’ give sketchnoting a try!
  3. All except one of my most popular tweets have images attached (and the 1 that didn’t featured a tweet by the Dan Meyer – and may have been retweeted by him – which is almost like cheating when looking for top tweets). It might also just be a biased sample since I’ve noticed over the years that tweets containing visuals of some kind seem to do better. So even for that last tweet above, which could have just contained the quote in text, I created an image for the quote. Those tweets always seem to rise above.

Thanks to everyone that has shared their tweets, read mine, retweeted, answered my questions, pushed my thinking, inspired new ideas . . . Twitter really is THE BEST PD any teacher can get!

What are your top tweets from 2017?

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

#DitchSummit 2017 #Sketchnote RoundUp!

This month was the 2nd annual digital Ditch Summit; 9 talks given via video, available for a limited time to watch until the end of the month, hosted by Matt Miller. Inspired by Jen Giffen’s sketchnotes from each of last year’s Ditch Summit talks, I decided to give it a go myself this year. So here they are:

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– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Push-Back to Student-Centred Learning. #sketchnote

I’ve often said that I would hate to be a learner in my own classroom. I was a very strong student in high school. I didn’t need to be in class; if I missed class I would read the section in the book & do the homework problems & learn it myself. I made beautiful pages of copied notes from the teacher’s board and was able to understand the content as I copied. I did not enjoy group work; hated relying on partners to do their bit. I am still the first person to roll my eyes at ice breakers in a staff meeting or workshop.

And yet, my classroom is the opposite of this. I ask my students to work in groups, beginning with a getting to know you question every day since we change groups daily. I don’t give many notes, rather I give students time to summarize their new learning in their course packs. We do problem-based learning with hands-on components whenever possible. This is a far cry from the teacher notes followed by homework problems routine from my day.

But many to most of my students are not able to learn that way (although a small number of them are & would prefer a more traditional teaching style). Most can’t understand the notes they’re copying down because they’re too busy copying. (Have you ever asked your students if they’re able to listen to the teacher while they copy notes? My students tell me straight up that they are not able).

So over the years I have searched for strategies & pedagogical methods that would transform my classroom to be a better learning environment for my students. But my students haven’t always been eager about my methods; group work, problem solving, critical thinking, feedback separated from marks, etc. The workings of our Math classroom are so different from their experience so far that they sometimes push back. And for many teachers, this push back stops them from continuing to pursue different teaching methods. For example, I’ve had students say “you don’t teach us!”. But upon drilling down further as to what they mean, it becomes clear what they really mean, is you don’t write long, detailed notes on the board to copy down. They think that is teaching and don’t view the careful orchestration of a student-centred classroom as teaching also.

My advice to teachers: keep trying! Don’t let that student (or parent) push-back stop you from pursuing new & innovative teaching methods. It’s normal – it happens to all of us! But eventually students (most anyway) get past it. Alice Keeler shared this great article entitled “NAVIGATING THE BUMPY ROAD TO STUDENT-CENTERED INSTRUCTION” by Felder & Brent that likens the student push-back during student-centred teaching to the 8 stages of grief. I love sharing the article with teachers that are frustrated by students that are reacting negatively when they try to transform their classroom to a student-centred learning environment. So to make the ideas even more shareable, I put together a sketchnote version:

Student centred instruction.jpeg

But I really do encourage you to read the whole article as the authors go on to explain some suggestions as to how to mitigate the push-back, such as sharing with students the reasoning behind the methods, and modelling & establishing criteria for the successful use of the critical thinking skills expected of students.

I’ll finish by including a few of the tweets from other teachers on the topic:

What push-back have you experienced in your classroom and how have you dealt with it?

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Building #ThinkingClassrooms

[update: There are now 14 elements in the Thinking Classroom framework – an updated sketchnote can be found here]

Almost 3 years ago now, some math teachers in our school board returned from a conference with two concepts from the research of Peter Liljedahl; vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPS) & visibly random grouping (VRG). I was blown away by these 2 strategies & implemented them in my classroom immediately after learning about them.

Peter tells a great story about a Math teacher saying upon meeting him “Oh, you’re the vertical surfaces guy!”. While he’s happy that teachers are finding benefit from implementing VNPS in their classrooms, he hopes those teachers will be inspired to go even further and delve into the 11 conditions Peter says will help us build “Thinking Classrooms”. A thinking classroom is . . .

“a classroom that is not only conducive to thinking but also occasions thinking, a space that is inhabited by thinking individuals as well as individuals thinking collectively, learning together, and constructing knowledge and understanding through activity and discussion” (Liljedahl, 2016)

In his chapter titled “Building thinking classrooms: Conditions for problem solving” Peter outlines 11 practices teachers can adopt in order to build a Thinking Classroom. Actually, I think that chapter proposes 9 of them, and Peter has an upcoming chapter to be released that details all 11 practices that his most recent research has unveiled. Here is my sketchnote summary of those practices:

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Building a thinking classroom:

  1. Begin with problems/tasks
  2. Visibly random groups
  3. Vertical non-permanent surfaces
  4. Oral instructions
  5. Defront the room
  6. Answer “keep thinking” questions
  7. Build autonomy
  8. Hints & extensions to maintain flow
  9. Level to the bottom
  10. Student-created notes
  11. Assessment

That last one is the one I am the least clear about what it entails. I heard Peter say in a talk that it would take him another 3 hour session just to cover that piece alone. I’m hoping that the more I explore his publications, the more I’ll learn about what he proposes for assessment as I am keen to get away from tests & make my assessment match my classroom time.

For more of my posts on Peter’s Thinking Classrooms work, click here.

Peter’s Thinking Classroom research can be found here.
He provides some “good problems” so you can start with the 1st step, here.
You can watch a 1-hour archived webinar by Peter on the topic here.

Update: I wrote an article for Edutopia about the first 3 elements of the Thinking Classroom – good tasks, VRGs & VNPSs – that you can read here https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-math-class-laura-wheeler

[update: There are now 14 elements in the Thinking Classroom framework – an updated sketchnote can be found here]

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Self-verbalization & Reciprocal Teaching

I’ve been selected to participate in a lesson study at my school this semester linked to Ontario’s “Renewed Math Strategy”. My homework after the first meeting was to read up on two of John Hattie’s high-yield strategies; self-verbalization & reciprocal teaching.

Our next meeting is tomorrow so I did some last minute reading & put together a couple of sketchnotes to summarize what I read:

reciprocal-teachingself-verbalization

Update 2017.05.15: I just got back from OAME 2017 where I attended a session on Reciprocal Teaching for the Math classroom. Lynne Vink, Chad Warren & Luke Kordupel shared the roles they’ve developed to help their students use this strategy in their classes:Reciprocal Teaching in Math

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Studenting & Visibly Random Groups: #Sketchnotes #ThinkingClassroom

A few years ago I started using visibly random groups & vertical non-permanent surfaces in my Math classroom. I got so excited about these strategies when some colleagues brought them back from a PD they had attended and immediately changed my classroom routines & setup. These strategies come out of a body of research by Peter Liljedahl on the Thinking Classroom.

Peter came to Ottawa last week for our Math PD day. He keynoted our event as well as offered workshops, both beginner & advanced, on how to apply his research findings in our classrooms. I tell everyone I can about how much Peter’s research has changed my classroom for the better, and so after his recent visit I decided to work on sketchnoting & sharing his research.

Here are my first two sketchnotes:

Visibly random groupings:

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Studenting behaviours around homework & studenting behaviours in the “now you try one” teaching model:

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Stay tuned for more sketchnotes about the Thinking Classroom!

Update: I wrote an article for Edutopia about the first 3 elements of the Thinking Classroom – good tasks, VRGs & VNPSs – that you can read here https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-math-class-laura-wheeler

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)