It's the elephant in the room: Are sketchnotes thoughtful design or simply decoration? Sometimes we think about 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.
The smash-hit Comprehension Connections introduced teachers across the country to the imaginative, inspiring, and practical teaching of Tanny McGregor. Now Genre Connections brings to teaching genre the same creativity and can-do spirit that has helped hundreds of thousands of practitioners improve. Tanny has been teaching and learning in Cincinnati for more than two decades. She is a staff developer, a nationally-known keynoter and workshop presenter, and a member of Heinemann Professional Development Services. In addition to Comprehension Connections and Genre Connections, she is a coauthor of the Heinemann title Comprehension Going Forward.
Follow Tanny on Twitter @TannyMcG