Not only are doodle notes based on brain research, but they are loved by students and teachers!
After getting input from hundreds of teachers, I've seen lots of:
I'm going to kick it off with some of my top strategies for actually using doodle notes, but I would love if those who are enjoying them in your own classroom would jump in. Please leave a comment so I can add to the list!
If we can all share different ways they have worked, or tips we develop as we go, it would really benefit everyone! I'd love to hear from you all.
First of All...
Using the same page can go completely differently in your 1st period class than in your 2nd period class. Some classes will take it and run with it, and some will walk through it right alongside you as you fill it in together like a whole class graphic organizer.
There are really no "right ways" or "wrong ways" to teach with doodle notes. Be flexible, because you'll be amazed how that one kid who has never been engaged in math class is suddenly focused, excited, and begging for more!
Of course, just by coloring or doodling, they will get some visual connections and will activate both sides of the brain, but to maximize the benefits, this should ideally occur while also getting verbal input.
Review the brain benefits of crossing the midline in these posts:
Scientists learned that the act of coloring or doodling requires just enough focus to keep you from zoning out, but not enough to actually distract you.
So, to maximize that effect, there should be focused, active teaching occurring during the doodle note lesson.
Use a Teacher Copy
Even if you keep your note page "bare bones" and just fill in the blanks, your main job is to talk and model the concept and examples, just as you normally would.
Students will have plenty of time while you talk and explain to embellish their pages.
Show a Sample
So, the first few times you use a doodle note approach, show a student sample just briefly to give them the idea. I include a photo in each one that I create so that you can use it as an example until your students get the hang of it and develop their own styles.
If you choose to try this strategy, be sure to have students work in pairs, so that the conversation is still happening. This way, you can get a variety of input going into their brains while they complete the page and fill in the information.
They can work together to decide what key information should go where. This will work if you are comfortable with variation. They may not write exactly what you would have written on the board, but you can walk around and check that they have the concept, key ideas, vocabulary, and examples all correct.
This method allows a little more freedom for the students, but may not work for all classes.
The kids will finally be allowed to use all their gel pens, special glitter markers, etc. I would recommend letting them use whatever they want for these, even though I am generally a "pencil only" math teacher.
If you are looking for perfect doodle markers, I have found paper mate flair "Ultra Fines" to be the best. They are like the regular flair pens (those classic felt tip marker-pens we all love for grading), but with super thin tips. These are great for doodle noting.
Do not add class time for just coloring. That is not the purpose. If students do want to color, embellish, add a million little doodle spirals, that's fine. But once the learning and teaching portion is over, the brain benefits start dwindling. Coloring the corners is not the valuable use of class time that completing the note sheet is.
Guide your class to doodle AS they fill the page, during the moments that they are still listening and learning. Let them do fancy lettering of a vocabulary word to help it stick in their minds. Let them color ideas that go together using the same pattern. Show them how to focus in on the visual triggers that will stick in their brain.
The Visuals & Graphics Will Work for Themselves
It's all about shapes, layout, and graphics. These act as brain triggers. Students will visualize the page, plus they will have formed connections in their minds that will help them retain the information.
Since math is usually left-brained, and any creativity that they put into the page (coloring, doodling, fancy lettering) is right-brained, the two hemispheres of the brain will be working together. By crossing the midline of their brains (the corpus callosum), they will automatically maximize their focus, learning, and retention of the content.
Working Document / Reference Sheet
They will pull it out over and over again to use as a reference. (Which they should be doing with a standard notebook as well, but often don't.) Instead of reminding them to pull out their notes when they get stuck, you'll see them jump to grab their doodle note sheet so they can show it off and add to it.
Encourage this! Let their note pages become working documents that are always on hand as graphic organizers or study guides.
They love to make these their own. So don't sweat it too much as you implement them. Just print it out. When you hand your kids these pages, the benefits will happen automatically. They will get excited and engage with the page in all the right ways.
Teach the Benefits
Advanced: For True Doodle Note Addicts
On the first time around, try modeling the process while explicitly teaching your students the benefits of this note-taking strategy!
This free doodle page is a great introduction and will get your class zoned in on the results and how the hemispheres of the brain work together when they incorporate coloring, doodling, and visual triggers in class.
Download this doodle note page and try using it to introduce students to the process and the concept behind doodle notes at the same time! It's a perfect starting point before using content-based doodle note pages.
Then, you may want to check out a little more on sketchnoting, hand lettering, icon drawing, and more to get your students (or yourself) some more doodle skills! I've got some links in my "Doodle Addict" pinterest board that you may enjoy! Check it out.
To Learn More & Get Started with Doodle Notes:
Are you looking to get started with this brain-based learning strategy in your own classroom?
You will be amazed at the benefits that doodling, coloring, and sketching in class can offer your students!
Plus, they will love it! Kids really enjoy doing doodle note pages.
Download your complete, free eBook: The Doodle Note Handbook for Teachers.
The handbook will walk you through WHY to use doodle notes, HOW to teach with them, WHAT is included in an effective doodle note page, and HOW to start making your own for your own classroom!