Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sketchnoting with ELLs

You may have noticed a recent trend in education toward visual notetaking, also called Sketchnoting. This practice has many benefits and applications in education, but I can see this tool as especially beneficial for our English language learners.

What are sketchnotes?
Sketchnotes are rich, visual notes created with a combination of drawings, handwritten notes, and other visual elements such as shapes and arrows. There is no set "format"- your imagination is the limit. Here's an example I created about the elements of fiction:



What are the benefits? 
The value of sketchnoting is supported by several theories, such as the dual coding theory. The dual coding theory (Paivio, 1971), states that both verbal and nonverbal processing are essential for learning. According to the theory, our minds have two separate stores of information (verbal representations and mental images) and learners require both to adequately retain and retrieve knowledge.

By drawing pictures of what they are hearing, students’ minds are engaging multiple modalities which leads to increased retention of information. According to author Wendy Pillars (Visual Notetaking for Educators), sketchnoting or ’edusketching’ can improve retention by up to 55%. This is especially important for students who are learning the content alongside the language. 

The visuals that they create during Sketchnoting can help them make important linguistic connections and support their language growth while helping them retain important content concepts. Since sketchnoting requires students to use both receptive and productive skills, along with higher-order thinking to synthesize information into a sketchnotes, students are being stretched linguistically and thinking critically. 

Sketchnotes also allow lower proficiency beginners to make notes they can understand, while connecting essential vocabulary to rich drawings and visuals, with the opportunity to incorporate their native language as needed for additional support. 

How do I get started?
This video reviews the basics of creating visual notes:



Which tools should I use? 
While there are many tools out there, I like the idea of sketchnoting by hand with paper and pens. According to Muller & Oppenheimer (2014), students who took notes by hand outperformed those who were using laptops for notetaking in conceptual understanding and long-term recall. If you must use technology for sketchnoting, I'd recommend using a tool like Adobe Draw- Sylvia Duckworth has a great presentation on using this tool for sketchnoting.

I prefer to use my RocketBook Wave for sketchnoting (mine was gifted to me at the Google Innovator Academy). I can easily digitize the notes as an image or pdf and send them off to any number of destinations (Drive, email, etc.). When my notebook is full, I can throw it in the microwave with a glass of water and erase it all so that I can reuse the notebook. Super cool!



Are you already using sketchnoting with your ELLs? Tell me how in the comments!



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