Thursday, 15 February 2018

Innovative Teaching in Science: Creating Doodle Notes

In my last post I explored the cognitive advantages to using Doodle Notes in the classroom.  Downsides to providing students with a sheet of blank paper and asking them to copy down your doodles is that you lose the time efficiency of a fill-in-the-blank note and their thought process and creativity might be stifled by your own.  For those reasons I created a scaffolding for the Doodle Notes, so that my class time was being used efficiently, students still had opportunities to infuse their own creativity and I could explain why I chose the images and paths that I did… and maybe part of the reason was that I am too type-A that my own doodles would take forever to draw out.  

For the most part, I create my Doodle Notes in PowerPoint (I am learning Adobe Illustrator but the learning curve is STEEP!)  I’ve found I can perform most tasks in PowerPoint quite well, but Adobe Illustrator has some technical advantages.  

 With PowerPoint, I can create quickly.  It is easy to import clipart and fonts that I have purchased.  I can even create custom shapes by using the “Edit Points” option.  There are limitations, but most of these are visual and do not affect the students’ learning (inability to change the thickness of line art, difficult to “lock” objects in place).

Adobe Illustrator has a huge learning curve.  I'm a Science teacher, not a graphic artist!  I’ve been using tutorials and templates to help me along, but these come with a cost - the most expensive being the time it takes to learn and create.  The biggest advantage to using Adobe Illustrator is the masterpiece that is created once the scaffolded Doodle Note is complete.

Either way, students are more likely to go back and study from their Doodle Notes, compared to their more traditional notes.  

With either program, I begin with determining which orientation I think would work best (portrait or landscape), and create a 8.5”x11” slide or art board.  After reviewing what concepts I want to cover, I write out the content on the page (which I later remove for the students to enter) and search for images that support the content.  I consider what the students can color in addition to what they can draw and write.  I start with the key images - that might be the Sun, Moon and Earth for a Doodle Note about solar and lunar eclipses.  As I proceed, and position the image and text elements, I add connectors like arrows to solidify those connections for the students.  A lot of adjusting happens throughout the process.  It does take a lot of time to create, but students start begging for these notes once they’ve had a taste!

In my next post, I will explore how I teach with Doodle Notes to innovate my Science classroom.


The doodle note teaching strategy was developed by Math Giraffe and is trademarked; Please see for more information.

Innovative Teaching in Science: The Cognitive Advantage to Doodle Notes

I’m sure you can recall a meeting or professional development where you’ve been without pen or paper and your mind wanders.  This happens to our students too!  How can we engage their brain if it is wandering around during our lesson?  There are benefits to taking notes, but can we make them better?

The solution I’ve found is Doodle Notes!  

I thought in the past my notes were fairly efficient.  Most of my notes are a fill-in-the-blank style where the student will write the key terms, definitions and problem solve alongside with me on the document camera.  Still, their minds would wander and they might check their phones.  

When I came across Doodle Notes I knew this was something that matched with my teaching style and how I wanted to present material.  These are not just colouring pages, they are a way to keep the mind engaged and activate both sides of the brain.  Plenty of research has been done on the benefits of doodling:
The Harvard Health blog reports that doodling: increases memory, stress relief and focus.  
This TIME article states that doodling, “forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don’t pay attention.”  Doesn't that sound perfect for our students? This Wall Street Journal article states that doodling, “provides an alternative route for learning for some people”, helps the brain remain active and helps people focus, retain information and grasp new concepts. Huffington Post reports even further advantages, that doodling helps you concentrate, improves productivity, creativity, helps to generate new ideas and makes you more present (even though you might not look it).

Creating the Doodle Notes required time, research and expertise in the subject matter (as well as an investment in quality images).  I learned a lot about how to optimize the Doodle Notes for learning from the Doodle Note blog and Sunni Brown’s book, The Doodle Revolution.  

In my next post, I’ll describe how I create the Doodle Notes and how I implement them in the classroom.

The doodle note teaching strategy was developed by Math Giraffe and is trademarked; Please see for more information.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Planning, Instruction & Assessment considerations for Curricular Designs

Here is a comparison summary of the planning, instruction and assessment considerations for the subject, learner and problem centered curricular designs.  Your feedback is appreciated.  

A PDF version is available to download.

Hayes, D. (2003) Making learning an effect of schooling: aligning curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 24(2), 225-245
McMillan, J. H. (2014).  Classroom assessment: Principles and practice for effective standards-based instruction (6th ed., pp. 1-20,  57-64,74-88). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Ornstein, A. C. (1990/1991). Philosophy as a basis for curriculum decisions. The High School Journal, 74, 102-109.
Shepard, L. A. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14. doi:10.3102/0013189X029007004
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...