Guest Post by Eliza Sorte-Thomas
What an honor (and intimidating endeavor) it is to get to contribute on one of my favorite colleague’s blogs! When Shannon asked, however; the first thing that came to mind that was worthy of sharing on her blog was information about “Noodling.” Wait! What?
Now, for you Southerners, it’s not grabbing a catfish with your hands (and yes, everyone else, that’s a real thing). Rather, it’s a name I came up with before I knew it already had a definition. So, noodling to me is note taking + doodling (get it???). If you want more info than I can provide in this blog post, though, just Google things like sketchnoting and visual note taking instead of noodling. There are some leaders in the field, there are videos you can watch, there are books you can buy and articles you can read. You can even climb down the rabbit hole of bullet journaling to get more ideas. There are great resources for you personally, if this speaks to you as a learner, and there is great information for all of us as educators on how we can use this strategy to support student achievement.
We know that items that are presented visually and verbally are more apt to be remembered than those that are presented in isolation. That’s called dual coding. We also know that notetaking is a tedious undertaking for many of our students. That’s just a fact we’ve experienced.
Over the last few years, I’ve been using more and more visual representation when asking students to record information (such as social studies information and math game directions, to name just two). But, there’s no limit to where and when you might use visual, nonlinguistic representations. Consider vocabulary words, sequencing for retelling or planning a piece of writing, the recap of a field trip’s learning, or the key ideas of a scientific experiment. The results have been amazing and I’d encourage you to try it.
But, I can’t draw… you might be thinking. Good news: noodling is not about the art (although it can be if that’s your thing or your student’s thing). It’s not even so much about whether the drawings look just like the item you’re trying to show. Be vulnerable. Model learning something new. It’s about whether or not when you see that drawing, that representation, and it helps you remember and comprehend the content you were recording.
Students LOVE it. I’ve been using noodling with Math Buddies (Kindergartners paired with fourth and fifth graders), with traditional fourth graders in social studies, with freshman in their 21st Century skills class, and with teachers in my presentations. Even the non-drawers among these groups give it a go and are able to find something they can use to help them. They love messing with various writing utensils (why don’t we let students have more choice in what they write with anyway???), using different fonts (even cursive is a font), creating their visual libraries (what they see when the think of the word or content), and/or emphasizing information with color (even if it’s just highlighting). Students of all ages love that THEY get to make meaning, THEIR way.
I’m including a few photos of things students have shown me visually as we’ve been working and learning together. You won’t start here. You’ll start with the basics and with something they know a lot about (themselves). Build from there!
This will give you an idea of things you can teach your students, even the first few days, and an instructional order for teaching those things.
Good luck colleagues! Get your noodle (your brain) noodling (note taking and doodling).
Meet the Blogger
Eliza Sorte-Thomas is a curriculum consortium director in Northwest Montana for twenty-six school districts. In her “spare time,” Eliza is a national presenter, specializing in math instructional practices and an author of two teacher amazing teacher resources: Math Play: 40 Games that Teach and Engage and Times Up on Timed Tests. She’s also the proud wife of a high school math teacher, has two high school bonus-daughters and two four-legged children. You can reach Eliza at firstname.lastname@example.org.