Sketchnotes Help Kids Grow Their Mindsets

Sketchnoting is a open-ended, process-focused activity that lets kids reveal what theyre learning without fitting into an instructors fixed frame or box.

By Kelly Owens

Open-ended expression supports a development state of mind because it doesnt pigeonhole students into believing they need to accomplish a preconceived concept of perfection or produce the “right response.”

Space welcomes creative expression. Given a choice between preprinted pages and blank documents, lots of children leap at the chance to fill the white space. Educators can capitalize on that appeal by providing creative alternatives for students to make their thinking noticeable.

Does blank space scare you? Or is a blank paper a welcoming chance to dig into an innovative pursuit without limits? What about your trainees?

Who is the Leader?

Different students will approach the same assignment various methods based upon background understanding, past experiences, and viewpoints. Throughout a process-focused activity the decision-making procedure lies in the hands of the trainee and supports Carol Dwecks concept of a growth frame of mind. A students active engagement with battles is valued for the possible it uses for growth.

Process-focused jobs enable students to discover their own voices and let their individuality shine. As they take ownership of the learning procedure, theyll struggle to figure things out as they experiment, design, and produce.

And, yes, they will make errors along the method. Tempest NeuCollins goes on to say, “… instead of errors being a failure to reproduce a suitable, they are chances to broaden concepts and utilize the process as a chance to creatively issue fix.”

A product-focused activity is more teacher-directed, requiring students to follow comparable directions to produce similar tasks that look like a sample. In her NEA Today short article” Encouraging a Growth Mindset through Art” Tempest NeuCollins, a Michigan K-6 art instructor and founder of Doodles Academy, says such tasks have a “narrow meaning of success.” There are incorrect and usually ideal methods to finish them, and some students might feel they ruined if their item does not appear like your design.

Follow-my-lead activities have their place in classrooms. My goal is to achieve an imaginative balance by also offering student-guided chances concentrated on the learning process. These activities put fewer limitations on creativity, empowering students to check out and actively engage with their own ideas.

Sketchnoting Showcases Reflective Thinking

Sketchnoting is a kind of notetaking where trainees change a blank paper into a collection of purposeful doodles, text notes, diagrams, shapes, and other graphics that show visuals of their thinking. Student-initiated sketchnoting invites learners to continuously contribute to their productions as their understandings establish.

Thanks to a sketchnoting book club, my co-planner extraordinaire Karen Raia and I introduced sketchnoting to our literacy students to assist them grow their visual vocabularies.

It implies the composing process continues well after a submission due date. Considering that sketchnotes represent a trainees connected concepts and understandings, they are works in development too.

Karen and I make every effort to offer our students as lots of opportunities as possible to play, practice, and obtain words. After an assisted read aloud of Robert Munschs The Paper Bag Princess, learners sketchnoted concepts about dream concepts.

On page 30 of Ink & & Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking, Tanny McGregor says, “We never think that we are completed finding out language …” McGregor likens the ongoing building of visual vocabulary to the method we continue growing our oral and written vocabularies.

As you can see from this example, our students release perfection as they were complimentary to artistically show the interconnected webs of their own thinking. Our takeaways:

► Students found it interesting have the power to choose whether to utilize words only, pictures just, images and words, and other design options.

Students discovered sketchnoting techniques are transferable to other content areas, such as mathematics.

► Part of the learning procedure included trainees making choices about what they deemed important enough to be taped in the sketchnote.

► One size does not fit all. Open-ended sketchnoting used trainees an option of ways to approach the exact same learning objective.

► Students said they felt empowered and in control. It didnt seem like deal with someone elses terms since it was enjoyable to be creative.

Opportunities to Be Vulnerable

By designing a lesson with the growth state of mind in mind, we open the possibility for students to experiment and play around with concepts in a safe space.

When providing sketchnoting opportunities to my students, I communicated that I was there to support and encourage them as they experimented with their learning procedure. There were no assurances they d strike the mark completely, however at least students had the opportunity to reveal themselves with something in the gray location in between right and incorrect.

Free-form tasks require the desire of the teacher to turn control over to the students. In her 2010 Houston TED Talk, Brené Brown talked about accepting vulnerabilities. She said we need to show children “Youre imperfect and youre wired for struggle, but you deserve love and belonging.”

Sketchnoting resulted in richer, deeper, more tailored responses that continued to spark excitement for learning. It also welcomed more important believing reflection concerns. Why did you pick to represent it that way?

Coloring Outside the Lines

During a process-focused activity the decision-making process lies in the hands of the trainee and supports Carol Dwecks idea of a growth frame of mind. Given that sketchnotes represent a trainees linked ideas and understandings, they are works in progress too.

Kelly also co-created Buddies for the Birds, which was included on the Emmy Award-winning program Classroom Close-up NJ. She made her Ed.M. from Rutgers University. Extra writing credits include released work with The King School Series (Townsend Press), The Mailbox magazine, and MiddleWeb.

McGregor, T. (2019 ). Ink & & Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

For trainees (and instructors) this activity is about being prepared to have a sense of experience while exploring with methods to represent your thinking. Throughout the design procedure, you can deepen your understanding of the subject and have fun while actively doodling. Theres no right way or wrong way to do it. Go ahead and try it … YOUR way!

Munsch, R. (2018 ). The Paper Bag Princess. Toronto: Annick Press.

NeuCollins, T. (2019, March 18). “Encouraging a Growth Mindset through Art.” NEA TODAY.

Open-ended sketchnoting actively engages students in the decision-making procedure of choosing how to artistically show their knowing. When sketchnoting fuel the growth procedure– even for those who think they cant draw and sketchnote, the trial-and-error mistakes students make.

Kelly Owens is a reading interventionist who assists sixth grade readers and authors get rid of past literacy struggles by developing stamina, confidence, and a greater love of learning. As an instructor with over twenty-seven years experience, she has actually proudly represented Hillsborough Township Public Schools as a NJ Governors Teacher of the Year.

When offering sketchnoting opportunities to my trainees, I interacted that I was there to support and encourage them as they explored with their knowing procedure. For trainees (and teachers) this activity is about being ready to have a sense of experience while exploring with methods to represent your thinking.

There are incorrect and usually best methods to finish them, and some trainees may feel they messed up if their product does not look like your design.

When a kid flaunts a completed coloring book page, a natural reaction is to assess whether they colored neatly inside the lines. At any time a kid has demonstrated how they transformed a blank paper into a drawing or sketchnote, theres an immediate WOW factor for what their creative brain thought to make with the space. Anything they designed on the page was an improvement of a blank page.


Brown, B. “The Power of Vulnerability.” TED, June 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *