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Doodling…An Essential Skill to Develop & Support in our Students?

October 1, 2011 21st Century Skills, Featured Carousel, TED Talks, Video 5 Comments

There is something about doodling…illustrating… as you are listening to, absorbing and reflecting about content or an experience. I have questions…?

  • Does doodling calm a mind, that is constantly bouncing of its walls?
  • Does doodling help one focus on auditory material?
  • Can doodling help clarify content?
  • Does doodling only work for the artistically inclined? (What if I can’t draw?)
  • Is doodling only beneficial for the visual learner?

I have been wanting to find out about these questions for a while now. During an experiment with a fifth grade class last school year, I showed them parts of Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Changing Education Paradigm” that had been animated by RSA Animate. You might think that this age group would not have been interested in that topic, but surprisingly they were fascinated and begged me to watch more of the video clip. I wrote about the different jobs students took, including the one of a Doodler/Illustrationist, as they watched another movie about the American Revolution. Take a look at the post The Official Scribe: It’s All About Learning Styles & Collaboration.

My little informal experiment showed that students, who doodled their notes, retained more details of the content they heard and were able to narrate and explain content, connections and sequence better than their counterparts who took text with bullet type notes.

In another post, titled Third Graders- Called Upon As Experts, I mentioned the “Doodler” using an iPad to illustrate during a Skype video conference.

A few days ago, I clicked on a link from Twitter, which took me to the following TED Talk: Doodlers Unite! by Sunni Brown

In this short five minute video Sunni answers many of my initial questions I posed above.

She makes a point of the importance of doodling as a means to use visual language and talks about the perceived notion that doodling is too often NOT considered serious learning. She advocates that doodling has a

profound impact how we can process information and solve problems.

How can we, as educators, ignore this statement above? Processing information and solving problems are critical 21st century skills!!!

How can we not take advantage of Sunni’s definition of Doodling below?

Sunni defines Doodling as:

to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think

Take the five minutes to listen to Sunni and maybe you will doodle on a piece of paper or on your iPad about what YOU think? How can you connect what you are hearing to YOUR classroom and YOUR students and all of OUR learning. How can me make doodling acceptable in schools and even take a step further by strategically teaching and supporting it?

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Kate Todd says:

    Hi
    Your article is quite thought provoking. It reminds me of seeing an artists exhibition of her doodles that she drew while on the phone. The interesting thing wa it lead her towards creating her larger works of art. this is about challenging our perceptions on what has always been deemed as useless or even antisocial, but used in the right way could be used to be a powerful learning tool.

    I am thinking particularly of my students who click out as soon as it is time for discussion, or for those boys who struggle to sit in one spot for any length of time. In terms of changing perceptions about doodling is to encourage students to doodle while we are talking or when discussion is happening. Maybe allowing time to have student show their doodles to the class and explain what they were listening to as they were drawing.

    I let you know how I go!
    Kate Todd

  2. [...] I found the purpose of doodles watching a TED talk by Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite!  I came across this video when reading  Free Technology for Teacher  and Langwitches. [...]

  3. Brandon says:

    I am glad that finally someone is saying that my doodling is not a bad thing but one that is actually a good thing. I have noticed that when I listen to something there are two different outcomes and both were mentioned by her. 1. I doodle I learn more 2. I do not doodle I recall close to nothing if anything. This was a great video and brought many different thoughts on possibilities for possible classroom discussions/activities.

  4. [...] out this blog post about an informal doodle test done by a teacher: My little informal experiment showed that students, who doodled their notes, retained more details [...]

  5. Andrew says:

    Yea! Reprimanded for the last time! This article along with the YouTube video by Sunni Brown was wonderful. It’s going straight to my administrator’s inbox. * On a number of occasions I’ve been called out during faculty meeting for doodling, which has instantly been associated with not listening. It just isn’t true. The information has always been retained and it has always helped me get through those exceptionally long meetings.

    *note: I would not recommend rubbing anything in your administrator’s face unless you have that kind of relationship.

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