It's the elephant in the room: Are sketchnotes thoughtful design or simply decoration? Sometimes we think about anything other than conventional writing as fluff, as some kind of extra that we'll offer up to kids as a treat or an "if we have time" reward. Year after year, some of our students wish they could show us how thinking drips from the tips of their pens in more ways than one. There's an ingredient missing here that, when added, invigorates our thinking and takes it to levels we didn't know were possible. That ingredient is design.
There are many ways to record thinking that don't rely on the elements of design, and that's all good. Sometimes we just need to quickly capture content or messily scribble down our thoughts before we lose them. Sketchnoting doesn't sit in opposition to these kinds of notes. In fact, for some students sketching can be the quickest way to make an abstract idea concrete.
Sketchnoting is about thinking and design. By merging the two, sketchnotes become both meaningful and memorable. Design adds a dimension to our thinking that might seem expendable, but when embraced becomes increasingly valued. Design decisions that involve color, font, and style matter here because they help make our thinking more memorable.
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Internationally-known teacher and conference speaker Tanny McGregor brings nearly 30 years of professional experience to her popular sessions. Her workshops are known for their creative and engaging style. Originally an elementary school teacher, Tanny has served as a literacy coach, gifted intervention specialist, and preK-12 staff developer.
Tanny is the author of three books, Comprehension Connections (Heinemann, 2007), Genre Connections (Heinemann, 2013), and her newest release, Ink & Ideas (Heinemann, 2018). Tanny was also a contributor to the seminal work, Comprehension Going Forward (Heinemann, 2011). In addition to writing and consulting, Tanny serves as a teacher on special assignment for West Clermont Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her husband Miles have four daughters and two grandsons.
Follow her on Twitter @TannyMcG!