Sketchnotes allows students to process their thinking from new learning to
identify main ideas, supporting details, make connections within the material and
with previously learned content, and organize their learning. The use of images
(representations) helps students to increase connections in the brain as well as
provide a way of synthesizing the notes using hand-drawn shapes, arrows, boxes,
and other icons.


  1. Choose content that is accessible for students. This initial use of Sketchnotes will be about the process and not about the  content of the notes. The goal is to help students understand how they can organize their notes, identify key information and important supporting details, and how they can use the notes as a learning tool.
  2. Sketchnotes are generally freeform, but as students are learning it is good to give them some ‘tools’ they can use to help get started:
    • Put the headline on the paper to present the main topic. The headline can go anywhere but usually in the top third of the page to give room to ‘work’ around it while adding your thinking.
    • Use ‘arrows’ for connecting, draw squares or clouds around ideas to set them apart, draw lines coming off of main ideas to represent supporting ideas.
  1. Provide the content to students (i.e., a short text, video, etc.). In this initial attempt, consider modeling for students how they might capture the ideas, but be intentional about providing students time to capture their own thinking by stopping at appropriate places.
  2. As the video or story continues, stop modeling for students and let them work in pairs to capture their own versions, discuss  the different ways students represented their thinking, how they were similar/different, etc. Be sure to keep the amount of content appropriate so as not to overwhelm students who might be struggling.
  3. Repeat the scaffolding process until students have developed their own approaches, have shared them with peers, and can explain what their structures mean to them and how they help the student remember the content.



  • How did you capture main ideas?
  • What new drawings/doodles are you using? How are they  helpful to you?
  • How do you go back and make sure you captured the key details in your notes?
      • Provide students with examples of Sketchnotes to review and critique. Having students identify what works for them and what doesn’t in these examples prepares them when they are making their own notes.
      • Plan opportunities for students to review their Sketchnotes with peers in small groups along with open-ended prompts about the content. This provides students the chance to test their knowledge as well as to add new information to their notes they may have missed previously.
      • Couple Sketchnotes with an Exit Slip where students synthesize the main points from the reading/video/lecture. This provides the teacher with a quick formative assessment about how well the students are capturing the important information.
      • Be sure to recommend students capture only important supporting details. Research indicates that too many details means the student isn’t processing the information, just capturing it.



    As students are reading a short story, have them capture the important details that support analysis of the main idea of the story.


    As students are reading The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street by Rod Serling, have them identify original ideas and artistic choices made by Serling and provide their analysis and connections to their background knowledge and context.


    Have students in Retail Marketing compare and contrast two marketing campaigns in the same industry to identify the benefits derived from each of the economic utilities (i.e. form, time, place, possession).


    Have students watch a video on soapmaking, identifying the process and determining if a chemical reaction has occurred including important details supporting their claim.