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Yes. Graffiti Is Legal Here.

Doodle away. What? Yes. You heard me. Students should be encouraged to doodle in the classroom. In fact, they should be invited to create giant graffiti boards and colorful mind maps together. These are instructional strategies that let creativity flow and call students think deeply about content and concepts. Look at what author and expert doodler Sunni Brown has to say:

"What did Einstein, JFK, edison, marie curie, and henry ford all have in common?...These powerhouse minds knew instinctively that doodling is deep thinking in disguise - a simple, accessible, and dynamic tool for innovating and solving even the stickiest problems."- Sunni Brown The Doodle Revolution.

Doodling can enhance note taking. I encourage my clients to doodle away - to make sense of what they are hearing. Ok. So doodling takes practice. Never fear! You don't need to be a professional artist to doodle! That's why it's called doodling not drawing. Since reading Sunni's book, I've been honing my doodle skills. My notes have transformed from -


to This:

Look how my notes are:

  • Concise

  • Meaningful

  • Organized

  • Vibrant and...

  • FUN!

As you might was a blast to create the page posted above about engagement. In deciding which text to add, I had to go through a process of prioritization, consolidation, and synthesis. This kind of higher order thinking leads to deeper learning, and longer-lasting memories. Enjoyment enhances learning.

Other ways to doodle in the classroom

Stop motion animation videos -

This seems intimidating at first. What? Create stop motion videos? Well, luckily it's not that difficult and totally worth it. In the classroom, I have used stop motion animation techniques to animate figures drawn by my students. With the help of tech tools like iMovie and stop motion apps like the ones featured here: Eight Great Apps For Stop Motion , anyone can bring their students' artwork and ideas to life!

Click here to see an intermediate stop motion tutorial.

Click here to see a tutorial for beginners.

Cartoons and Comics

In my classroom, cartoons and comics have long been considered valuable reading material and valid vehicles of expression. Facilitating comic book writing can seem intimidating at first. But, really, it's as easy as providing paper with a variety of comic book frame configurations, some good art pencils/markers and some great mentor texts. Most public libraries have large collections of graphic novels and comic books. Just by taking a careful look at the choices that authors in the genre make, young authors can begin to craft books of their own. Just like reading comic books and graphic novels gives struggling readers access to sophisticated concepts and support for challenging vocabulary, writing that includes graphic images allows children who struggle to produce written work the ability to convey sophisticated thinking and story telling. Comics can be created the old fashioned way (with pen and paper) or they can be created online using various tools. Here are some resources to get you started:

Click here for apps for comic book creation - 4 Great Comic Book Apps for Educators To Use

Click here for paper for comic book writing - Free Printable Comic Book Templates

Doodling and Cooperative Group Activities:

Yes. Enjoyment enhances learning AND students - especially those with learning differences - benefit from working collaboratively. Collaborative work allows students to rehearse and solidify new learning in a safe environment. Instead of relying solely on the instructional strategies employed by the teacher, group projects call all participants to add their unique instructional voice. This leads to more learning opportunities for everyone. Working in a group of peers is also SUPER engaging.

That's why small group collaborative tools like community mind mapping, and group graffiti boards are great ways for students to represent, keep track of and share what they are learning. Educators now know what graphic artists and photographers have known for a long time. Images hold power. Kids can get more bang for their buck by drawing, photographing, doodling, and using technology tools to bring their ideas to life.

Instructional tips for Cooperative Group Activities:

  • Provide Clear Expectations for Groups - make sure students understand what they are expected to produce. A quick checklist can be a great way to let students know what you want.

  • Model and Check in - it is wise to model the use of technology and to have the class observe one group before heading off on their own. Fishbowl modeling can work well. Everyone circles around a group that has been primed to model the process of assigning roles and getting down to work. Stopping the group to think out loud about next steps and problem-solving can allow the whole class to prepare to work together.

  • Encourage Specialization - help students take advantage of one another's strengths. If you see the big picture -take charge and organize. If you are a wordsmith -write away. For goodness sakes, if you have artistic flare - use it! Cooperation does not mean that everyone contributes the same skill set.

  • Start Small - while students are becoming familiar with how to work with technology and how to collaborate effectively, it is essential that teachers keep assignments simple. Also, it is KEY to make the timeframe short. Assigning in-depth, lengthy projects right away will leave students feeling unsuccessful and overwhelmed.

Cooperative Mind Mapping

One great group activity is cooperative mind mapping. Teachers can use cooperative mind mapping to review information from previous classes and to check for understanding. Basically, students are organized into small groups and then asked to show what they know (or gather and display information) about a topic of choice. Students can either work on a large piece of paper or white board or they can use various platforms to work on a virtual mind map (Google Docs work well for this activity). Mind maps are a graphic representations of information that usually include a main idea or concept that is placed at the center of the map. The main idea can either be represented with an image or words or both. Then, connecting/supporting ideas are placed around the central idea. Those supporting ideas are then surrounded by explanations and details either in graphic or written form. The mind map below is organized by color and includes both words and images.

Example of a cooperative mind map:

Group Graffiti Walls

A graffiti wall is similar to the cooperative mind map. However, group graffiti walls are less structured. Teachers might assign graffiti walls to find out what their have learned from assigned reading or to offer opportunities for students to review and assimilate information from previous lessons. Basically, the teacher provides a large piece of paper, a set of markers, and a topic or question and encourages small groups of students to express themselves. Any combination of images and words is acceptable on a graffiti wall. This is a great tool for shining a light on the artists in the classroom and for promoting peer sharing, teaching, and learning. This activity can also be accomplished virtually, but it is a ton of fun in person!

Example of group graffiti wall:

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