Sketchnoting & Teaching Through Picture Books – My Final Project Plan

So here it is. My Course 5 UBD planner for my final project. After putting myself out there several times on Twitter, asking for classes interested in collaborating with me on this project, I kept coming up short. I started to wonder if something was wrong with my internet connection, since I wasn’t getting any response. Finally, after creating an infographic explaining my project ideas, I received some retweets and a few tweets of interest from some teachers. I have to say that this was very exciting for me!

My idea for my project is to connect sketchnoting with informational writing. My 4th Graders just started a unit on Informational Writing. The goal of the project is for students to write informational picture books that are geared towards 2nd Graders. The students will collaborate with a partner class and get feedback from them about informational topics of interest to them.

Using that information, the 4th Graders will set to work researching topics to learn more about them. They need to be able to understand the content well enough to teach it to their  2nd Grade partner through their picture book.

At the beginning of the unit, the 4th Graders will also be introduced to sketchnoting – what is is and why it can be a useful tool to use while researching. After the students are familiar with sketchnotes and have tried making a few, they will use sketchnotes to document their understanding of the topic and subtopics for their picture book. They will use their sketchnotes to help guide them when drafting the picture book.

Throughout the process, the 4th Graders will share their sketchnotes and drafts of their books with the partner class – getting feedback on parts that are clear, and parts that are not. Then they will revise these sections. Finally, we will share out informational e-books with our partner class.

As of right now, I’m thinking of using Google Sites to create a website for the project to “live”. I’d like to include either a Flipgrid or Padlet page, as a place for students to leave message and feedback for each other. But a lot of that will depend on how much tech our partner class has access to.


2 Replies to “Sketchnoting & Teaching Through Picture Books – My Final Project Plan”

  1. Hi Alexis,
    Welcome to the cohort. I too have found it difficult to get a reaction on Twitter when I have put out a request. It sometimes feels like throwing a pebble in a pool, but there are no ripples. I know that’s not a fault in Twitter but my own sporadic engagement. One’s responses depend on the strength of one’s network and the degree to which one has established mutual links. I have often found more help on more specialised networks such as the IB online curriculum centre.
    I’m interested in how you find the sketchnoting suits your students’ learning styles. I attended a very good workshop at Learning 2 in Warsaw and introduced sketchnoting on my return to Grade 12 ToK, but, perhaps because of their age, they were quite wedded to their established methods of notetaking.
    I have successfully used the products of other people’s sketchnoting in my own learning and teaching, such as the summaries made by Sylvia Duckworth:
    I am curious to know how your students benefit from learning to sketchnote and whether it suits all of them or only certain styles of learning.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Thanks very much for the welcome. As I began my project, I was really excited to introduce sketchnoting to my students and thought that it would just ‘take off’. Well, I am continuing to learn that what looks good on paper (or on a UbD planner), isn’t necessarily how it will turn out in the real world. My original hope was that students would get the hang of sketchnoting and then be able to use this skill do record their research for an informational picture book that they are writing. However, once we got started with sketchnoting, this group didn’t seem to have the same excitement for it that I did. As I reflect on it now, I think I needed to do more explicit frontloading and modeling of this and should have given them more time to practice. But as I realized that we needed to get going on the writing project, I stopped pushing the sketchnote aspect of the project.
    I was listening to the Google Teacher Tribe podcast ( and heard about the new Google Keep integration with Slides and that gave me another idea.

    I actually introduced my 4th Graders to Google Keep and the Keep Chrome extension and showed them how to take notes and organize their research digitally. And now that the Keep Notepad has been added to Google Slides, the students are literally taking their research (written in their own words) and dragging and dropping it into their e-book template on Slides. Then they are using that research as the start for that particular section of the book, adding more as they build each section. This, they were able to pick up really quickly – it only took 2 twenty minute lessons to show them how to use Keep, get the extension and then get to work!

    And, even more ironically, I have naturally found us using sketchotes in Science and Social Studies – it seems like a more natural fit in these subject areas right now. We just began a new unit on economy, and to understand where money came from, we watched a Brainpop video about Money. There was A LOT of information packed into 3 minutes and 44 seconds, so after we watched the video together as a class, I put the students into groups, which were responsible for teaching one section of the video. They had some guiding questions, but the task was to take the information from the video, and turn it into a sketchnote which became part of a timeline about the history of money. Then each group presented one section, explaining their sketchnote. Afterwards, we put them up together as a timeline, so that everyone could see where money came from and how it has changed over time.

    So, this has been a long-winded explanation about my sketchnoting experience this year! I still love the idea of sketchnoting and know that my students can do it. But, I think that I need to give my students more time to practice making sketchnotes and seeing them modeled before I send them off to create them on their own to use for an actual assignment or project. I think I was trying to put a square peg into a round hole with sketchnoting and writing, but I am looking for ways to naturally use them, where I can see it making a bigger impact on student learning.

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