Getting the most out of Doodle Notes in the secondary classroom – you can do this!
I have gotten many questions from teachers over the past year about how to implement doodle notes in their classroom. If you are accustomed to using formats such as Cornell notes or other straight forward methods of note taking, it can be very daunting to try something new and unfamiliar! As with our students, we all have a preferred learning method and usually our teaching method mirrors that preference. If you are wanting to try doodle notes in your class and you just aren’t sure where to start, I have some tips and ideas that hopefully will help you get started. Trust me, your students will love them and will appreciate your effort just as much as you appreciate theirs!
DOODLE NOTES ARE NOT JUST ABOUT COLORING!
Although there is an aspect of coloring involved, the point of doodle notes is for student to create visual connections in their learning. This could mean color coding, highlighting, drawing a doodle to represent a concept, drawing arrows to connect ideas, or creating bullet lists. Every doodle note I create, I fill in the notes and color myself as an example for my buyers. The coloring does not take me that long, more time is spent on the actual notes. Don’t feel like that this is just an excuse for students to spend a class period on coloring, the focus is the content. Here are some ideas to ensure that doodle notes are content driven:
- Have students complete the notes before they are allowed to add any color or drawings
- Limit the amount of time that is given for coloring and drawing. I set a timer in my classroom.
- Encourage students to add color and personal touches to their notes outside of class. Not all students will want to, but you will be surprised at the number of students (even in secondary) who enjoy this type of activity. Their creativity will often far surpass the example I create!
As with any activity, there is definitely more than one way that you can use doodle notes in your classroom. You may find that one method is not the right fit for your classroom, but that doesn’t mean that you just can’t use them. Experiment with how you utilize them and come up with what works for you! Here are some ideas for using doodle notes in your classroom:
- TEACHER LED: One of my favorite ways for my students to take notes is through guided note taking with me. I use an overhead projector and I take the notes along with the students as we discuss the topic. The students can see what parts of our discussion are important enough to include in the notes by seeing what I write down. I will sometimes ask the students what parts of what we discussed should be included in our notes so that they can gain experience in identifying key information from group discussion.
- STUDENT LED: Students also benefit from reading through text and picking out important information, either from their textbook, non-fiction reading passages, or internet research. Have students work together in small groups to research the topic and fill in their doodle note with the information that they feel is important to remember. I usually set a time limit on this activity so that we can then discuss as a class what each group has in their notes. Invariably there will be a point that one group found important that another did not and students can share what they included in their notes. This can lead to great discussions between the students as they essentially “teach” each other (guided by me!) Plus, we all know how (some) students love to get up in front of the class and lead the discussion. Doodle notes are perfect for cooperative learning!
- INDEPENDENT RESEARCH/HOMEWORK: Doodle notes also make great independent research or homework assignments. Have students work on a doodle note as they read from their textbook or do online research for homework. As with the student led note-taking, I have my students share with the class what they have learned and included in their notes. One way I like to do this is to have students arranged in groups the day the homework is due and have them write on butcher block paper what they have included in their notes. Then I create a gallery walk around the classroom of their butcher block papers and have the students go to each group and see what the other groups have included that they might have missed.
- INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS: Doodle notes make fantastic additions to INBs! You can print them slightly smaller than 8.5 x 11 so that they fit better in notebooks. I usually had my students just fold it in half to fit. Students can refer back to these throughout the unit to refresh their memory and as a study guide.
- CLASSROOM DISPLAY: After your students have finished using their doodle notes to study, why not use them to show what your students have learned and created in class. Administrators love to see student work displayed!