Visual Note Taking Grade 6-9

learning skilLS

instructional strategy
Visual Note Taking

Draw images or doodles in place of taking notes by text to retain information

academic skill

Listening Comprehension

Select and use a variety of listening strategies to comprehend information communicated orally and non-verbally

Lesson Objective, Goal and Success Criteria

Develop and enhance listening comprehension skills using visual note-taking strategies. 
Be able to listen attentively, identify key information, and summarize the main ideas of a spoken text.

UDL Instruction

Start with a fun warm-up activity that challenges students to listen for one specific word in a Karaoke song.
  1. Select two songs from the supplementary materials or two other karaoke version songs of your choice. 
  2. Divide the class in half with one group facing a board where the karaoke song is presented while the other group turns their back to the board.
  3. Divide the group with their back to the karaoke song in 2 groups and give each group one separate word in the song to listen for (see visual diagram).

Visual Diagram of the Room:

  1. The group facing the karaoke board sings the first song to the two groups who are listening for each of their words.
  2. The groups who are listening for their specific words count the number of times they hear the word.
  3. The teacher counts the number of people in each group to get the right number of words correct and writes this number down until all groups have a chance to listen to the words. 
The students who sang the first song switch places with group 1 and 2 who will sing a second song while repeating steps 3-6. The smaller group with the most number of students to identify the correct number of times their word appears in the song is the winner of the activity.
Watch the video, Sketch Noting Using Listening and Drawing to Change the World (from 1:40 – 8:00 minutes- Brain Seizure story and Story of Brodie)

Ask the class if anyone has doodled in class while listening to the teacher or has done any sketch note taking and if they would like to share their experiences of how this helped them.

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation through process and product

Sketch Note Taking Individual Activity The teacher shares a short audio clip short story with the entire class of how a homeless student connects with his teacher.

Link to the story: https://storycorps.org/discover/education/lesson-the-power-of-active-listening/  (scroll down the page to Celeste and Aaron story) Each student uses sketch noting to actively listen to and try to understand the story.

After completing the sketch notes, each student takes a photo of their visual notes using a mobile device (tablet, Chrome book, phone or other device).

The teacher copies the editable Google Form called “Sketch Note Taking” to make a copy for themselves to share with the students.  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ypGdlHBKWSTCeVrSCLy8derz9iz_CX70SniMB_g0_zg/copy

The teacher then sends a link of the Google Form that students can access from their individual mobile devices. This is done by 
  1. Clicking on the send button
  1. Clicking on the link icon, checking shorten URL and copying URL link to share with students

The student will use this form to upload their individual sketch notes and answer the following questions by uploading a text-to-speech Google Doc or typing responses by text.

  1. Describe a brief summary of the story.
  2. How did Celeste show Aaron that she was really listening to him?
  3. Why do you think that it was important to Aaron that his teacher, Celeste, listened to him and his story?

Measurement of Success

After the students submit their answers via the Google Form, the teacher asks the students to reflect on their experience of sketch note taking by considering the questions:
  • How did they feel about the experience? 
  • Was it easier or harder than taking just text based notes?
  • What made it easier or harder?
  • How could sketch noting help them better understand material?
The teacher can assess each student’s understanding of the content by reviewing their individual Google Form responses.

Materials, References and Resources

Laptop and presentation screen Tablet, Chrome book or other mobile device
Gur, T., Dilci, T., Coskun, İ., & Delican, B. (2013). The Impact Of Note-Taking While Listening On Listening Comprehension In A Higher Education Context. International Journal Of Academic Research, 5 (1).

Pillars, W. (2015). Visual Note-Taking for Educators: A Teacher’s Guide to Student Creativity.  W.W. Norton and Co.


Fun Listening Activities for Middle School Kids They’ll Tune In For https://www.lovetoknow.com/parenting/teens/listening-activities-middle-school

Story Corps: The Power of Active Listening
Sketch Noting: Using Listening and Drawing to Change the World
The Basics of Notetaking
How to Remember More. Graham Shaw

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