The ABC of ELT

What Are Sketchnotes?

Sketchnotes are one of those ideas that is spreading more in education circles. But what are sketchnotes? Are they just another buzzword or trend, or are they something that is worth using in the classroom? Well in this short explainer video, I go over what sketchnotes are…via a sketchnote. (I know, meta).

What are sketchnotes ?

Sketchnotes are Notes Plus

I love this discription from Mike Rohde (possibly because I can make a cool drawing for it), that sketchnotes are not just written notes, but notes plus graphical elements, dividers, lines, sketches and more. I also like the description of sketchnotes being like Indian Jones’s “Holy Grail” diary. The type of notes you’d probably take if you weren’t told that you had to stick to only words.

Why Use sketchnotes?

The five factors I identified for using sketchnotes are

  • critical thinking
  • concentration and listening skills
  • memorable
  • creative and fun
  • relaxing

In terms of learning a language, the fact that they are memorable is a key factor here. If these notes are more effective for students, than it can help them recall words, chunks and grammar structures when they need them. The other benefits are also good, but if they were worse for remembering information, then I probably wouldn’t recommend them.

But classes aren’t lectures

One of the issues I see about the idea of sketchnotes, is that they were born by going to conferences. Now, most modern lessons (especially English language teaching) don’t look like lectures or conference sessions. Instead they are more interactive and centered around projects. This doesn’t mean that sketchnotes are in appropriate for these lessons though, but more thought needs to be given on how they can/should/shouldn’t be used.

Want to find out more about sketchnotes?

If you want to find out more then I suggest you check out Mike’s page on Sketchnotes, his book “the Sketchnote Handbook” or head over to the sketchnote classroom and get some resources that you can use.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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