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Meeting Students Where They Are With Visualized Thinking and Sketchnoting

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYODex

Sunday, June 23, 11:00 am–12:30 pm
Location: Franklin 8-9, Marriott

Manuel Herrera   Kimberly Zajac  
Visual thinking is a learning process used to help students understand problems, make meaning and recall information through visualizations (brainstorming, sketchnoting, symbolism). Join us as we share our accessible approaches that are designed for all students. You'll learn to establish entry points to ease learners into this personalized way of thinking.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Optional but not required

Paper53 (free), Procreate ($$), Adobe Illustrator Draw (free)

Autodesk Sketchbook (free) PaperDraw (free version), Adobe Illustrator Draw (free version),

Minimum Materials Required
paper and a pen/pencil/marker

Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Communication and collaboration
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Special education, Not applicable
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Teaching, Learning and Assessments
  • Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based on student readiness levels, learning styles, interests and personal goals.
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Visual thinking is more than a way to capture information using sketches. It is a strategy that combines visual, motor and cognitive processes that fully engage students in their learning. In this session we will demonstrate how visual thinking is used to capture complex information using color, shapes, lines, and text to focus on bigger ideas and interpret information visually so that it is easily understood and remembered. Participants will be shown student and teacher visual thinking examples and how they were applied to different learning experiences with a variety of learners. We will then guide participants through challenges that demonstrate how visual thinking can be applied to teaching and learning so that students can define and refine their learning. Participants will experience how to take handwritten sketchnotes and capture them digitally for sharing and organizing and showcasing learning. In this session participants will understand the basic elements of visual thinking, learn simple visual thinking techniques and strategies and apply the techniques and elements of visual thinking.


I. Introductions
II. Define Visualized Thinking as a learning process. (5 minutes)
III. Defining Sketchnoting and Symbolism as tools to think visually. (2 minutes)
IV. Showcasing the landscape of learning visually across curriculum with ALL STUDENTS. (3 minutes)
V. Classroom examples of teacher and student products (sketchnoting, symbolism, brainstorming) using visual thinking strategies. (10 Minutes)

VI. Core Experience
Materials and Tools - Tablets, Smartphones, PC/Mac, Markers, Pencils and Paper
Hands on Challenges and Goals (5 Minutes)
Challenge 1: Developing Symbols and Elements (15 Minutes) “What is your Visual Language?”
Challenge 2: Teach an Idea Through Sketchnoting (15 Minutes) “How to consume, create, convey deep content visually”
Challenge 3: Create a scaffolded experience for students to sketchnote (15 Minutes) “Allow students to Define and Refine their Understanding.”
VII. Closing -
Share, Reflect and Relate: Where you can implement this in your practice? How will you bring students to the next level? (15 Minutes)
VIII. Ultimate Application Contest - Social Media Experiment

Supporting research

Book: Making Thinking Visible When learners speak, write, or draw their ideas, they deepen their cognition. Project Zero's Visible Thinking approach shows how. Ron Ritchhart and David Perkins Article: Neural correlates of the episodic encoding of pictures and words Article: Learning Through Visuals Visual imagery in the classroom Haig Kouyoumdjian Ph.D.

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Manuel Herrera, Affton School District

Manuel is an educator, international speaker, & doodler. He currently serves as the Innovation Coordinator for the Affton School District located in St. Louis. He is an adjunct professor for Webster University, teaching Digital Video for Educators and Designing Ed Tech Facilities. In addition to these roles, Manuel is the Communications & Design Lead for Connected Learning, an educational non-profit located in St. Louis. Manuel has keynoted, presented, and led workshops at educational conferences like SXSWEdu, ISTE, TCEA, MassCUE, FETC & .EDU. He specializes in sketchnoting, visual thinking, design thinking, & 3D printing & design. In 2018 Manuel became a Google Innovator.

Kimberly Zajac, MassCUE/Norton Public Schools

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