Doodling With A Purpose

Doodling? In the classroom?

When my students are reluctant to try something, I ask them, “Who wants to be a risk-taker?” And then, I usually get some takers ūüôā I was DEFINITELY¬†reluctant to try “doodling” in my classroom, but I can say that it might actually be worth the risk.

I first heard of doodling, also known as sketchnoting, in the classroom just this week from a colleague. She emailed me the following two articles, Making Learning Visible: Doodling Helps Memories Stick and Keep Calm and Doodle On, which are excellent! And she asked me if I was interested. Then, I was encouraged by another colleague to try it, and so I did!

After reading the Visual Learning part of 21 Things for the 21st Century Teacher (one of the additional readings for this week), I had visual learning on my mind. I was thinking about how important visual learning is, especially in the science classroom and how I want to improve such learning in my classroom.

I am a longstanding advocate of the traditional graphic organizers, and I have more recently become an advocate of info-graphics. They seem to work for my students, and they are great examples of visual learning.

But back to doodling…I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I think that doodling might have some of the same properties and therefore benefits as other visual learning tools. Can doodling keep our students focused, help them remember information, and allow¬†them to listen at a different level? I may not be completely¬†sold, but I am willing to give it a shot!

When I tried doodling with my grade 11 IB chemistry class¬†this week, I wasn’t exactly sure how to explain it them, and I wanted my students to take it somewhat seriously. I was half-expecting them to think it was a joke! So, I had them read the above article titled,¬†Making Learning Visible: Doodling Helps Memories Stick¬†because I thought it did an excellent job of explaining the concept and benefits of doodling. After the students read the article, they were instructed to doodle their notes during student presentations. And after we finish presentations next class, I am going to ask my students to share their drawings with each other to fill in the gaps.

Here is a TED Talk from Sunni Brown titled, “Doodlers, Unite!” In less than 6 minutes, she gives a pretty convincing argument for doodling.

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I know this particular learning tool may not exactly be tech savvy, but I think it could evolve into something so. For this reason, I wasn’t sure if I should even write about it on my COETAIL blog. Then, this morning, as I was reading some recent blog posts off of my RSS reader, Digg Reader, I found this: #coetailsketch – another humble proposal. Another COETAILer is blogging about the same idea! I was stoked, and I am excited to see how¬†this learning tool is going to work for me and for my students.

What do you think about doodling? Would you be willing to take the risk of trying it out in YOUR classroom? Or even trying it out for yourself? I warmly welcome your comments below.

5 thoughts on “Doodling With A Purpose

  1. Hi Pamela,

    In your quest for Making Thinking Visible, I came across a fellow coetailer’s unit planner that enhances this idea with multiple platforms (link to You may be able to gain some insights of how to take “doodling” to the next level.


  2. I’ve never heard of this, and I totally think it’s tech savvy! I have to admit I’ve thought about my doodlers, and whether or not what they’re doodling helps them in any way. I had a friend in high school who crocheted during all lectures, and that was her way of “making things stick.” Productive doodling sounds fascinating, and I want to give it a try. Here’s a great article about the benefits of “crafting,” and I think doodling applies: link to Let me know what you discover, and I’ll try something as well, and we can chat.

  3. Hey Pam! Your post caught my eye- I was curious about your title and figured that ‘doodling’ stood in for some other tech idea…it couldn’t have meant simply doodling, right? Wrong! I read a couple of your links and am super interested! What a great idea…and not all that revolutionary!

    I teach an ELL cluster class, so anything visual adds to understanding and concept retention. I’m already thinking about when/where to use it with my class. Which subject areas would it be most effective in?

    I read that over time the doodles improve, with a focus on the big ideas- what a great way of checking for understanding. Did my students really grasp what I was saying?And then the idea of being able to look at a doodle to recall what the lesson was all about? Too cool. I’m already visualizing tons of ways to use these doodles in my classroom.

    I’m using the Seesaw app in my classroom as a digital documenting tool and I’m already thinking about having students post ‘doodles’ tomorrow after a minilesson to guage their understanding with big ideas.

    Thank you for sharing! ūüôā Amy

  4. I wonder if you ask your students if any of them use an app to sketch what they would say? What about what art teachers use? I am big on choice, so encouraging people to use a method that works for them is my style. Personally, I am such a non-doodler that typing is virtually the same as writing my notes. I can still add color and change my font size, most importantly use bullet points, all with the ease of an app that will sync across all of my devices.

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