Tag Archives: Austin Kleon

Sketch Notes

Yesterday I picked up my 3rd grade GT students for class, and one of them had a cute little notebook.  When I asked her what it was for, she said that she just likes to take notes and draw things in it.

Funnily enough, I had just participated in a Twitter chat the night before, and we had talked about student engagement.  Note-taking was mentioned, and we discussed how copying down what the teacher has on the board isn’t usually very engaging, but other types of notes can be.  I gave the Vi Hart videos as an example of taking note-taking to another level.

I was curious to see what my 3rd grader would do with her notebook. I don’t find myself saying a lot of “noteworthy” things during class, so I suspected she would do more off-task drawing than anything academic.  However, I didn’t want to discourage another potential Vi Hart!

In our small circle of 6 + me, we discussed systems thinking and the Billibonk and the Thorn Patch book.  The monkeys had just learned that elephants were easy to trick from watching the mice, and we talked about how, as role models, we never know who is observing our behavior.  My student was busily drawing in her book, and I asked if she wanted to share.

systems thinking

She explained that getting away with doing something wrong could cause an endless loop -like a person breaking a window makes other people think it’s okay to break windows, and it keeps happening.

Definitely not off-task.

During our Hands-On-Equations lesson, my student sketched a lot in her book.  She later showed me her drawings – detailed examples of an equation we solved on the whiteboard along with the vocabulary I introduced today, “legal move.”

Photo Oct 28, 12 37 51 PM

Some people call it Sketchnotes.  Others call it mind mapping or visual note-taking.  My 3rd grade student’s notes haven’t reached the sophistication of Vi Hart, Austin Kleon, or other examples you will find online.  But I will have this young artist in my class until the end of 5th grade, and I can’t wait to see what her notes look like by then!

If you are interested in Sketchnoting, Kathy Schrock has an excellent page of links, apps, and video resources to use with students.  I think it would be well worthwhile to show some of the examples to students, and give them the option of visual note-taking in class.

UPDATE: 10/31/14 – I just found this great post on Doodling from Leah Levy that explains why doodling is great for your students and gives even more resources!

from Austin Kleon's Visual Note-Taking Page
from Austin Kleon’s Visual Note-Taking Page

Newspaper Blackout Poems

A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon
A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work, also has a book called Newspaper Blackout.  He recently participated in a Twitter chat, #edbookchat, co-moderated by Chris Couch (@the_explicator), which found its way into my Twitter stream.  Austin, who lives in Austin (fancy that!), has posted some of his poetry on his blog here. He creates one of these each day, and posts them on Instagram.  I find this method of creating poems so intriguing.  To take a piece of writing that is meant to be informative and light on figurative language, and make it into a work of art that speaks deeply and lyrically really appeals to my appreciation for irony, I suppose.  I want to try this with my students, but I’m still working out the logistics (which grade levels, how much to scaffold, etc…)  And then there’s the newspaper.  Do I limit it to certain sections and/or articles?  Or maybe I should start with a Scholastic Weekly Reader, or a website, or a picture on the iPad of a textbook page.  So many possibilities!

Regardless of the educational implications, it’s Phun Phriday, so you don’t have to stick this in a lesson plan.  Just read, and appreciate the talent of Austin Kleon!

(Strangely, right after I saved my draft of this post, I saw a tweet from @PrincipalOgg about a great writing blog.  I followed the link, and found a recent post on “Erasure Poetry.”  I highly recommend you visit “Two Writing Teachers” for some more awesome ideas!)

UPDATE:  After this post was shared on Twitter, Mr. Theriault (@davidtedu) shared this link to a Slideshare about creating Novel Blackout Poetry by Sean Ziebarth (@MrZiebarth).  Thanks for the tip, Mr. Theriault!  And, one of my Tweeps, @ArinKress, was inspired to create her own Newspaper Blackout Poem and share it.  The pic is a bit difficult to read, but it says, “Enough with worrying when falling because we all stumble.”  Love it!