There Are No Mistakes, Just Happy Sketchnotes: Let's Bob Ross Our Learning

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Explore and create : Creation lab

Nichole Carter  
Sketchnoting is a way to make thinking and learning visible. Come learn about how sketchnotes are great for multimodal learning and help with retention. Learn hands-on how to implement sketchnotes, the pedagogy and brain science behind it, and walk away with resources to get started in your classroom tomorrow.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Windows, Android, iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Paper


Adobe Illustrator Draw

Topic: Creativity & curation tools
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Language arts
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Educational situation: this works fantastic with ELL/multilingual department, in my district they did a ton of work with language acquisition through visuals. Sketchnoting was the tie between their brain based research and practical application. This also works great as an additional AVID strategy. We push Cornell notes for our students through AVID and talk about revisiting the information, this is a strategy that allows the students to add a layer of images to their notes as they revisit the most important information.

Technology Intervention: We are a chromebook 1:1 district 4th grade through 12, while sketchnotes can be done on a touchscreen chromebook we have also provided additional iPads for creation. This is the perfect way to get teachers to think about using the best device for the job, in fact the first lesson I love to do paper pencil so the students have a physical cheat sheet to use for reference for the rest of the year.

Models employed: I have taught the basic lesson to teachers in after school PD sessions, and provided all the materials for them to go back to their classroom and teach it themselves. I have also taught on a large scale to all 210 ELL teachers in our district to allow them to use it in their classroom. At this point teachers also have access to have me come in and co-teach the introductory lesson so that they can continue the process in the classroom when I am done.

Lesson Plan: For this lesson I have a slide deck with basic information, and then I use my iPad pro and usually the procreate app to project for the students as I draw, they will then draw with me on their own paper or machine. Depending on the need of the classroom, one Technology Design class was working on layers in different iPad apps so when I came to do the lesson I used Procreate and taught them how to create layers at the same time as teaching them sketchnotes.

Evidence of Success: At this point I have sketchnotes being utilized in most ELL classrooms across the district and have co-taught over 100 lessons from grades 3-10. Teachers have noticed students even utilizing this strategy while taking their SBAC state test.


5 Minutes: Doodle Game-Graphic Jam, teachers will draw an image on a post-it notes in ten seconds based on a word I provide. We will then discuss (elbow partner- then larger whole group share out) what was difficult about that process and how we might make the process easier for them and for students when taking in new information and processing it into notes.
25 Minutes: On the What and How of Sketchnotes.
50 Minutes: Hands On Doodling: we will go over drawing simple images and icons using a visual alphabet, we will discuss structure of sketchnotes, how to draw facial expressions using the face matrix, how to draw people, how to use your own handwriting to create different fonts, how to draw arrows, dividers, containers, and banners. Participants will leave with a in-depth cheat sheet to take home. They will be able to do this paper pencil, or digitally. My hope would be to do this digitally on an iPad using a stylus and either the app Paper or Procreate but we can accommodate for people that don’t have that kind of a device. I can bring my own traveling devices to loan out to the audience as well.
10 Minutes: Application of Knowledge: participants will listen to a podcast and try their first sketchnote using their “cheat sheet” as reference. We will then share our sketchnotes with our tables and “fill in” information we missed, and discuss the applications of revisiting the material and how “turn and talk” partners can be valuable to the experience.
10 Minutes: What does this look like in the classroom: we will go over possible ways to use this skill in the classroom and share out any new ideas.
10 minutes: Explore Resources: I have many resources for chromebooks, iPads, and additional books and website to further your knowledge in the process and ideas of sketchnotes.

Supporting research

My Book: Sketchnoting in the Classroom (published by ISTE)
The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde
The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown
Visual Note-Taking for Educators Wendi Pillars
Slyvia Duckworth's Flickr
Edtech Team Webinar on Sketchnotes
Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything: Sketchnoting
Heck Awesome Doodles
Sketchnote Army
Cool Cat Teacher's Sketchnoting Resources
Brain Doodle Lessons

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Nichole Carter, Beaverton School District

Nichole Carter was middle school classroom teacher for 12 years, teaching both honors and regular ELA. She used the flipped classroom model for four years in a row, in a blended learning environment in a 1:1 iPad school. Author or Sketchnoting in the Classroom, published in June 2019 by ISTE is available on now. No stranger to technology integration, she is now a K-12 Literacy and Digital Curriculum TOSA for the Beaverton School District, a national public speaker, and author.

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