I have learned a great deal about visual notetaking the past year as I’ve been working on my second eBook project, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Vol I.” Canadian educator Giulia Forsythe has been and continues to be inspirational to me as a VERY amateur and “emerging” visual notetaker. Rachel Smith’s 18 minute TEDx talk, “Drawing in Class,” has also been a big influence. Since I believe we should all “walk our talk,” I resolved before the ISTE 2013 conference to try the suggestions of Giulia and Rachel at some of the conference sessions and create my own visual notes. Here are the results.
Most of the drawings of people still look like they were drawn by an advanced second grader in these sketches, but I’m reminded of both Giulia and Rachel’s advice: Visual notetaking is not about creating great art, it’s about creating images which convey personal meaning for the artist. The litmus test of successful visual art is whether or not someone can summarize key points from a lecture or presentation, using his/her visual notes as a memory aid. That is something I CAN do fairly well using both these visual note examples, so I’m pleased with my ISTE 2013 drawing experiments.
I used the full version of Brushes for iPad (with the $3 layers upgrade) along with a Rocketfish stylus to draw both these visual note examples. Following the advice of Giulia, I drew the outlines of my shapes in narrow point black, and then used a background layer to fill in with color afterwards. I like the effect and am really pleased with these drawings as my formative attempts at visual notetaking. I’ve used Brushes for iPad a bit in the past, it’s the tool I used to create my icons for the Mapping Media digital literacy framework. My familiarity with pinching to zoom in and out was definitely helpful in creating these drawings this week.
One of the most interesting things about creating these drawings was interacting with other people around me in the sessions who had been watching me take notes. After both sessions, I had several conversations with people about visual notetaking and the value of asking students to nonlinguistically represent ideas in a lecture or from a presentation like this. I may have won over some new visual notetaking converts! I encouraged people in both cases to watch Rachel Smith’s TEDx talk, “Drawing in Class.” Hopefully if you haven’t already, you will as well… and you’ll be inspired to give visual notetaking a try too. Check out my page for visual notetaking on “Mapping Media to the Common Core.” Also check out my eBook on media products 1 – 6 in the Mapping Media framework. It’s $5.
In her presentation, Giulia cites and recommends several books related to learning, cognition, brain research, drawing and visual notes. These include the following titles, which I’ve added to my own Amazon wish list.
Giulia’s work as a visual notetaker has been and continues to be incredibly inspiring as well as challenging to me. As a teacher and a learner, I want to have the artistic and instructional courage of Giulia Forsythe.
Of the six “media products” in this first volume eBook of “Mapping Media to the Common Core,” visual note taking is definitely the one I feel most uncomfortable with and least skilled at doing. That’s exactly why I think I need to practice my visual notetaking skills more. As Giulia encourages us in this video, we ALL can learn to draw effectively, but we need practice. When I drew the icons for “Mapping Media to the Common Core,” in several instances I found icons I liked on iconfinder.net but then drew my own versions. I’ve learned this is something other artists do too.