Doodle Notes for the Paperless Classroom
Can’t Print Your Doodle Notes?
Even in a school that is not tech-based, there are days when problems arise and you just can’t make enough copies of doodle note sheets or other handouts for your students. Maybe you didn’t have a chance to run to the copier, you’ve reached your school’s printing limits, or your printer, once again, ran out of ink. We’ve all been there.
A great solution is using visual notes in a digital format. I’ve rounded up all of my tips and tricks to make doodle note-taking in a digital format as effective as possible!
(DocHub app used with visual note template as background)
Benefits of Visual Notes by Hand
First, a disclaimer: I strongly believe in doing notes by hand, on paper, whenever possible! (See this post on digital classroom vs. math by hand.)
But of course, there are times when digital lessons can be wonderful and practical. So the goal here is to do the best you can to maximize the brain benefits in any situation.
Visual notes in a digital format can give you a break from making copies, wasting paper, and using up expensive printer ink. Some days this format is more desirable, convenient, or just plain necessary for a successful class!
However, you should note there is a lot of research out there that shows notes are so much better when taken by hand, rather than digitally. Scientific American tells us that even though people generally type faster than write, more notes aren’t necessarily better.
In three separate studies that compare students taking notes by hand vs. students taking notes by laptop, they found those who wrote out their notes had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material.
So, while there’s no doubt there are clear benefits to digital notes, keep in mind this format should be used in moderation. Students get the most benefits from taking notes by hand!
(Inkflow app used with background template from this set)
A friend of mine, Leah at leahcleary.com, provided an excellent post about how to make your worksheets work digitally. It’s actually much simpler than you may think! Here are the steps to get your doodle note sheets into a digital format.
You need to follow a few very simple steps:
Then, with their devices, students have easy access to the note pages (or worksheet). With DocHub, they can draw, write, highlight, and even insert text or images on their note sheet!
(Decimals doodle note set used with DocHub)
Student-created graphic notes
Another cool way to avoid printing or copying doodle pages is to let your students create their own graphic notes on an app on their device. The key is uploading a PDF of the doodle note backgrounds or templates for your students, that they can add to a note-taking app. There are many apps out there, and I have not played long with all of these yet, but here are a few to try:
This app allows you to use an interactive pen to markup any PDF, while still feeling natural through pressure. Change aspects of the pen quickly with the touch of a button on the pen sidebar.
Inkflow Visual Notebook
This free app provides a space for your students to upload images/graphics and create fantastic sketch notes with smooth writing tools.
A nice feature that I like about Inkflow is the ability to select an area and move it around. This can be so helpful in creating visual notes – Students can actually re-organize the page as they go, to improve the visual layout and flow! This helps overcome some of the challenges of student-created sketchnotes. One downside to this app is that you have to pay for colors :(
(Doodle note background template used with Inkflow app)
Although not free, this app is fairly inexpensive ($7.99) and provides the best platform for your students to create visual note pages! On this app students can annotate on PDFs, write on the app like real paper, search handwritten notes, and even convert handwriting to text.
This app is $5.99, and allows students to effortlessly create beautiful notes on their device. Your students can take unlimited visual notes with this app by handwriting notes and marking up PDFs.
Try adding templates as backgrounds to make the process easier.
Tips for using doodle notes
If you’re looking for some great tips to better implement doodle notes in your lessons, keep reading! Here are some excellent tips for implementation:
1. Show a Sample
To maximize the benefits of doodle notes, you should allow students to fully express their personality and creativity. That being said, students may need a little bit of guidance to help get them started, especially if you’ve just recently introduced doodle notes. The perfect way to guide them is showing a completed sample of the doodle notes sheet when you begin the lesson.
2. Keep Research in Mind
Be sure to keep the research in mind as you implement doodling in math class. Keep your focus on the brain benefits as you guide your students through these.
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.
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, in order to maximize this, there should be focused, active teaching occurring during the doodle note lesson.
3. Limit Time
When it is time to cut off the lecture or the lesson, be sure to stop. Stop just as you would with regular notes. Move on. Students who want to add to it can do so later during free time or at home.
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.
To read more of my tips, visit How to use Doodle Notes in Math Class!
I am continually impressed by all of the teachers in Doodle Note Club! I am constantly hearing great ideas from other teachers about how they implement Doodle Notes. Here are a few of my favorites:
To read more about how other teachers are implementing doodle pages, go to In the Classroom!
To Read Next (on Your Visual Note-Taking Journey) -
Consider kicking off Pi Day class with a fun, instructional video on Pi! I love this Math Bites with Danica McKellar video all about pi; It’s funny, light-hearted, relatable, and most of all informative and really helps students understand the concept of pi; it really gets the point across that pi is an irrational number. Plus, it’d be the perfect time to serve up and eat some Pi Day treats!
Pi Doodle Notes
If you’ve tried doodle notes, you already know kids love them! They are the perfect blend of creativity and rigor; doodle notes activate the left and right sides of the brain, which improves memory and retention. To read more about the many benefits of doodle notes, go here!
These Pi Doodle Notes are perfect for Pi Day or anytime! Here’s what it includes:
- approximations of Pi
- definition of "irrational"
- meaning / utility of the number Pi
- room for a history fact about Pi
- room for a formula that includes Pi
Pi Day Stations
My favorite way to set up class on Pi Day is implementing Pi Day Stations. I have a post about how I plan and manage the perfect Pi Day using stations, here.
I wanted to structure the class period so that the learning activities could run themselves, while I monitored and served pie to the students. Here are the stations I came up with:
I settled on the idea of stations, or centers, that would cover all the activities I wanted to do. This filled the time so nicely. No time was wasted. (As always, I am all about KEEPING the rigor, even on a fun day!) Plenty of learning was accomplished, but students still felt the joy of a fun celebration day.
For station 1, I laid out a bunch of different round objects, and had kids measure with string. They recorded their observations for a few and then derived an estimate for pi.
In Station 2, students receive a Pi Fact Sheet with fun tidbits about pi and its history. Using the sheet, they are asked to develop something creative to share a few of the facts. It can be a poem, song, graphic, etc....
I leave out special Pi-themed paper for drawing or writing. I also set out some blank white paper, so each student can choose.
Stations 3, 4, and 6 are fun worksheet-style stations. Students do a word search in one. In another, they apply pi to determine what size pizza is the best deal by finding price per square inch of pizza. The 3d one focuses on a spherical ball.
For Station 5 students read books about Pi; my favorite one is Sir Cumference!
You can purchase it (affiliate link):here.
Most students, if asked their favorite part of Pi Day will be quick to answer with, “The food!” After all, they probably don’t normally get the chance to eat anything in class, let alone sweet treats.
I discovered the coolest item at Kroger a few days ago- miniature individual pies! Avoid the mess and hassle of serving pies or other foods, and give students the choice to eat their favorite pie! I found mine at Kroger, for only a dollar, but I also saw these pies on Walmart’s website for only 50 cents! Create a signup sheet for students to choose which flavor of pie they want, and then ask students to chip in $$$!
Get Students Laughing with Pi Jokes
It’s always a good idea to begin class with some smiles and laughter! Break out a few of these hilarious and dorky Pi jokes throughout the class period, and set the mood for the class period. Here are some favorites:
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I hope you try one or more of these ideas! Don’t forget to plan your Pi Day the right way- Check out Perfecting Pi Day for my tips and tricks for planning the perfect day and avoiding my previous mistakes!
Do you have anything awesome planned for Pi Day? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
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Football Math Activities for this Week
It is an exciting time of year for our football-loving students! With the big game coming up, football is the focus of many students’ conversations. I feel the most proud and confident about a lesson when it is relevant to my students’ lives. I’ve rounded up some ideas to bring that game-time excitement to your classroom!
Financial Football – Free online game
Kids can play this interactive, video-based online football game to explore financial literacy. There are options for one player, or head-to-head play.
Lesson plan PDFs to accompany the game are available as well, with options for age 11-14 (rookie), age 14-18 (pro), and even an option for 18 years and older (Hall of Fame).
It’s really well done, and students think it is pretty cool. You’ll need an active flash player on the classroom computers to use this.
Creating a Graph
Have students review the history here showing all winners, and determine the best way to represent the data on a graph. They can show all years by creating a graph that best displays the information.
This is a great opportunity to incorporate technology as well. They can do paper or poster graphs to plot it, or use tech tools to create the graph. Try having students work in pairs.
Linear Equations Football Game
Your students are sure to love this fun, football-inspired game for Algebra! With this game, there are so many easy ways to differentiate. You get two sets of “football play” cards. Set A has basic linear equations in slope-intercept form, and Set B has y-intercepts that are not integers (Students must use Point-Slope Form on these cards.)
You also get two different worksheets. Worksheet 1 has students only write equations in Slope-Intercept Form. Worksheet 2 has students finding and recording Slope-Intercept Form and Point-Slope Form.
Students pair up and play the game with their partner. Each turn a new "football play" card is drawn. The offensive player decides which of two points on the coordinate plane to pass the ball to. The defensive player decides which of two defenders will attempt a tackle. A player scores by writing the equation for the line of the pass correctly....as long as the defender did not accurately make a tackle at the same point.
Check out this video to see how the game works!
The Science of NFL football
NBC Learn teamed up with the National Science Foundation to create a 10-part video series centering on the Science of NFL football It covers everything from spheres to health and hydration to the Pythagorean Theorem.
This page is more geared towards a science class, but some videos definitely belong in your math teaching. These videos are perfect for getting your students’ attention!
I especially love this video on Geometric Shapes: Spheres, Ellipses, & Prolate Spheroids!
Mean, Median, Mode, and Range
Use this tweet map to explore the number of times each word was tweeted in each region during the 2009 game.
By hovering over areas and scrolling across the time bar, kids can see the totals. Just give a few question prompts that help them review measures of central tendency. The possibilities are endless!
STEM Lesson with #DeflateGate
This STEM-based football lesson is great for older students. It would work well for high school math, Chemistry, or Physics class. Students explore links between pressure and temperature. They’ll convert units to metric, watch a video, and use the expression P1/ T1 = P2/T2 to determine whether a cold game may have affected the inflation of the ball.
This lesson on the Ideal Gas Law can be just a quick reading of the article in the last few minutes of a class period, or you can go beyond, and try it out with a football and a freezer!
Dollars and Cents at the Concession Stands
Something I’m pretty sure everyone loves at football games are the concession stands! Bring this delicious aspect into your classroom with this creative game from Scholastic.
Scholastic shares a great idea for younger learners. Pass out poster board to small groups and have them build concession stands, drawing and pricing their menu items; using play money and a “register” have students pay for items and make change accurately.
For middle school students, consider printing out the statistics of the two teams in the superbowl, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Using these numbers, have students work in pairs to find the mean, median, and mode, etc. You can also have graph the stats and compare the two teams.
If you teach a subject other than math, Scholastic offers a ton of other ideas to integrate football in your lessons!
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