Sketch Notes

We’ve all been to conferences where, during a keynote presentation, there’s an artist off on the side creating a visual representation of the keynote address, as shown below for example:

These sketch notes have also appeared in RSA Animate videos featuring Sir Ken Robinson.

It wasn’t until I attended a workshop by Linda Vasu and her team from Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich that I saw the value of these types of notes in Physics.

Typical assessments in physics involved either problem solving or conceptual explanations.  We never (and I never) have had students represent their understanding visually.  I’ve tried it twice – one during Newton’s Laws of Motion, once as a summative assessment for Conservation of Momentum.  The first time was a challenge for my students, mainly because they had never considered representing what they knew this way before.


I found it important to give the students some guidelines about creating sketchnotes.  I based my introduction on Linda Vasu’s presentation.  Download this keynote.


These guidelines were also helpful.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 10.23.27 AM

Students’ initial tendencies were to just sketch pictures so I had to keep brining them back to Kambitsch’s Visual Thinking Guidelines.  The first round wasn’t perfect, to be sure.  To quote one student, “This was hard!” but by the time we did this on conservation of momentum, students were about to deftly create a sketchnote in 10 to 20 minutes.  I still think I need to do some additional work with them on visual representations so I’ll consider this a work in progress.

I really want to formalize this as part of my assessment strategy.

Additional Sketch Notes resources:

How to Get Started with Sketchnotes

The Sketchnote Handbook

Kathy Schrock: Sketchnoting in the Classroom

Sketchno Frenzy

The Doodle Revolution

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