Drawing in class: Rachel Smith at TEDxUFM

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 31.08.2012

"Dibujando en clase"
When I was in high school
I was a pretty good student
and I took very good notes,
and my teachers really appreciated that.
And my notes looked a lot like this,
most of the time.
So you look at these notes and you say to yourself:
This is great.
This student is clearly paying attention in my class, right? That's what it looks like.
The trouble is that sometimes my notes looked a little more like this.
And this was a little hard, a little more problematic
because to the teachers it looked like I was drawing in class,
and so I would get a different reaction.
But for me, it was just as easy to listen closely to what the teacher was saying
if I was drawing images
as it was if I was writting words.
Sometimes, it was actually easier for me to listen and pay attention
if my hand was doing something
and it didn't matter if the images that were coming out had anything to do with
what I was hearing.
It was just easier for me to focus
if I was drawing.
But, teachers with stand in the front of the room and seeing me in the back of the room,
'cause my last name started with an "S", and so as I was in the back,
and they would say "she's drawing in class again."
And they'd make me stop,
and then they'd make me stand up in front of the class and recite some exercises
to induce me to pay attention better next time.
And maybe after class I'd have to stay and clean off the blackboard,
and then I'd always get the same lecture which went something like this:
"Rachel, you're such a good student
but if you don't pay attention,
you're not going to do well."
Guess what I do for a living now?
Any guesses?
Twenty-five years later, it turns out that what I do for a living
is pay attention.
I get up in front of a group
and the group talks
and while they're doing that, I pay attention,
and I pay attention totally and completely
and with everything that I am.
And while I'm paying attention to what the group is saying,
I take notes.
And those notes look something like this.
This is called graphic recording.
I use huge sheets of paper on the wall,
and I use big markers,
and I listen to the group's conversation and I record it, using words and images.
Sometimes there are more words and sometimes there are more images,
but usually the notes come out looking something like this.
This helps the group in several ways:
it lets them see what they're doing, it lets them see their work
in a way that's not normally possible in a meeting or a conversation.
It lets them see the big picture together.
They can make connections between pieces of information that come up at different
times in the meeting.
They can follow the thread of a conversation through a multi-day meeting
because it's all around among the walls all the time.
It really helps the group to see what they're accomplishing as they do it,
and that's my contribution.
I make the group's work visible.
I also use visual note-taking to take my own personal notes when I'm listening
to speeches or lectures or meetings, what have you.
A couple of things are different than
when I was in high school. I'm using different tools.
So, my notes look a little different.
I also draw on an internal
library of images that I've developed over the years and that I carry with me
that I can just draw very quickly when I need them.
They're just ready for me to use.
And I've gotten better at pulling out the key points the speakers are making.
I've had a lot more practice.
And I've stopped worrying that people are gonna make me stay after the meeting
and clean up because I've been drawing.
Any type of note-taking is designed to help the student
take what they're hearing
and hook it to their internal frame of reference, that's how learning occurs.
You take new information and hook it to old information that you already had.
When you take notes, it's very possible to write down word for word exactly what
the teacher's saying and not understand any of it.
Is that happened to any of you? I know it's happened to me,
where I just have no clue what's going on, so I just write it all down and hope
I can figure it out later.
When you're using visual note-taking, though,
you have to listen to what's being said,
you have to really hear it,
and you have to understand it,
because that's the only way you're going to come up with an image that connects
what you're hearing with what you already know in your mind.
Visual note-taking opens the door
for more playful connections between information
for students to use their imaginations
in an activity that can often be
very passive: note-taking.
It also helps students to create
a personal visual memory aid that they can study from later.
They can look it and tell themselves the story again.
When a teacher is teaching, what they're doing really
is telling a story about something they're passionate about
and when a student takes visual notes, what they're doing is making that
story visible.
When taking visual notes, the critical thing is that your images are very quick
and easy to draw,
and that they're relevant to the content that's being said.
If you find yourself doing a really really detailed image
and it has nothing to do with what the speaker's currently saying,
and this happens to every visual note-taker at some point,
then you've lost track of what's going on, you've fallen behind
and what you need to do is stop, leave a space,
move on and keep up with the speaker.
When I was taking the notes here, the speaker that I was listening to,
Chris Schunn,
was talking about the difference between low-success teams
and high-success teams, and you can see
that in the lower portion of the slide here.
And I had this image of how I wanted to represent his description of what those
two teams were like,
but I didn't have time, while he was talking, to work it out, because I hadn't
have those postures of the people that you see here. That wasn't in my library,
in my image library, already.
So I left the space and I went on with him, which is good because if I hadn't
if I tried to work out that drawing right then;
I would have ended up missing the take-home points
of the lecture which is the important thing, that's what you want to
know is this is what the speaker once you walk away with
so I waited until he was finished
and when the talk was over, I went back and I worked out the drawings the way
that I want them
and now when I look at them they remind me of the descriptions that he used
because this is the image that came to my mind when he was saying that
I'm not saying that this is the only way to take notes
I'm nothing is the best way to take notes
I'm just saying it's another way to take notes, it´s another option and for some people
can be very very helpful
some people have a very hard time writing words while they're hearing words
It´s just for some reason it's very hard
other people naturally think of images as they're listening
and for other people like me
it's just easier to focus and listen closely when something is coming
with your hand, when you're doing something with your hands
we like to think that school has changed in thirty years gotten better
I want to tell you a little story about my niece Elizabeth
Elizabeth is thirteen years old she's just going into eighth grade this year
and Elizabeth is really good student
most of the time
and last year in school
she got caught drawing in class
she got in trouble
I can't believe this is still happening, but it is
so she got called up after class to the teacher and he was going to assigned her in detention
but before he could say anything, Elizabeth
who is much sharper at thirteen then I was
showed him her paper
and she said
"I wasn't drawing in class"
this is what she showed him, She said
"I was taking notes in your class, I was paying attention"
and she went over this paper with him point-by-point
and she used her words and her images to recall
the story that he told in his lecture
and she captured all the key points
it was clear that she had been paying attention
and that she could read her notes
and when she was finished her teacher said
"That's really good"
"If you want to keep taking notes like that in my class you go right ahead"
so some things have changed
and she continued to do it
all through the semester as you can see her notes got better she got better at
organizing the information
she got better at choosing which images to use
and in the end she was able to demonstrate that these notes could help
her study and so she was able to do it in other classes as well
I talked to her recently and I said
"Elizabeth tell me how was this experience for you, this visual note-taking in class
What was the experience like?"
and this is what she said to me
she said "It help me remember better
because I could place the information
with a picture that's relevant"
and that's what it's all about
but the key point here
is that the picture and the information
are not just connected in Elizabeth´s notebook
the picture and the information are connected in Elizabeth´s mind
that's why these visual note-taking works
What do you think is the most common objection I get?
when I start to teach people how to do visual note-taking?
Any ideas?
I´ll show you
okay, say it with me
"But I can't draw"
I get that all the time
good news is it's not about drawing
it's not about making beautiful pictures
it's not about making detailed images
it's not about accurately drawing a person or a car or a light bulb
it's not even about doing something that's recognizable to anybody other
than yourself
the thing that you need to do with visual note-taking
is capture what you're hearing
in a way that's memorable for you
it's a personal experience and it needs to be personally relevant
and connect it with what you heard
and that´s all
So, let´s say, that you´re convinced
and you want to try this yourself or if you're a teacher you want to let your students try it
we're gonna go every three simple steps that'll get you set on this road
to get you started
and the first one is to choose a tool that works for you
the second one is, to start building up that mental library of images
that I talked about
and the third one is to really practice listening in capturing the key points
after that, is just practice that's all you need to know and then just practice
so let's go over this, one by one
Choose a tool that works for you
this can be anything at all
it can be paper and a pen or pencil
it can be a tablet computer or an iPad
you can use lots and lots of colors just a few colors, just one color
whatever you like
it just has to be something that you're absolutely comfortable with
whatever's happening the tool cannot get in the way of you taking your notes
it can't get between you and capturing that information
so if your tool is too confusing or if you're not familiar with it
it's not gonna be helpful to you
whatever you choose, you should practice with that tool
before you record a lecture or class
or a meeting, that's very important
because you want the tool to just be seamless
not your way at all
by the way the sketch notes here
have been done by Mike Rhode
and he's a fantastic inspiration if you're going to begin doing visual note-taking
so I really recommend looking at his books and his pictures
second thing, is actually your most important tool,
so the tool you write with it is important, but the most important tool
is your internal library of mental imagery
you start with one or two icons
when you see something that somebody else did you steal it
you make it your own, you modify it
and gradually you build up this library
that you can just use whenever you need to
every image that I use in my digital notes in my visual notes
digital or paper
I've done dozens and dozens of times
I know exactly what I'm gonna do
I'm... I modify it slightly to fit the context
and may add a little detail
but I'm not making up on the spot
it takes all of your attention
to listen
and capture those points that you're hearing
all of your attention is bound up in that
if you're creating a new concept if you're creating an image or an icon
for a new concept or idea
that takes all of your attention
you can't do them both
it's one of the other
think of it this way
if you were taking notes in a lecture
and you were just using words you are not using images at all
you would not dream
of inventing a language to take the notes in,
while you're listening to the lecture
Can you imagine making up words and trying to assign a context to them
that´s consistent while you're listening to something else?
No, you couldn't do it
it's exactly the same with visual language
you need to have these words in your vocabulary already
you need to be taking notes in a language that you already know
finally and this is the most important thing, if you forget everything else
what I said today because you know you're working on
a detailed drawing about slide too or whatever...
if you forget everything else
this is what I want you to remember
visual note-taking works
if you capture the speakers key points
that's all you have to do is capture the speakers key points
the images that you use should be simple enough that you can draw them very quickly
but you can add details to them
to capture additional information that the speaker says
even if you don't write it all out.
So for example when I´m talking about here
this slide is visual notes that I made
of a talk on key competencies for participating in virtual meetings
especially where you want to do visual note-taking
so things that you have to know to be in that kind of meetings
to run a kind of meeting
and one of the points that the speaker made
was that you have to have patience
so you can see
the patience that there have a little patient person right
so this is just my standard person modified to be like this
with a little halo to indicate how patient they are are
and next them is a computer that I draw all the time
but I've added lines coming out of that computer right
unhappy the computer is unhappy, there are these lines coming out
and what that one image reminds me of
is that the speaker was talking about being patient
with technical difficulties
not being patient with people who are difficult
in your meeting or something else
so just those lines remind me of that detail without my having to write it all out
I called her and I said "Elizabeth,
I may be giving this talk,
What's the one piece of advice that she would give to people?"
and she said "I would tell them that you don't want to take too long
because then you get sucked into the drawing you can't even hear what they're saying"
Which is absolutely true
you get sucked into the drawing and you can´t hear what they're saying
it's really not about the drawing
it's about listening and capturing
listening and capturing
if you're working on a detailed drawing and the speaker is talking about
something else I can guarantee that
you're not listening to the speaker anymore
you might be listening to your inner critic who's saying
"That drawing is not right, keep working on this, it's not right it's not right"
or you might be listening to that voice in your head that says
"That is not what a zebra looks like"
but you're not listening to the speaker
and what you need to be doing
is listening to the speaker
when you've done visual notes
the way do you tell if you do it right
is if you can look at your notes
and tell back the story that you heard from that speaker
then you did it right
that´s all there is to it, there´s no more than that
can you look at it, and recall the story
after you've had some practice is really meditative doing visual note taking
it´s kinda of like a conversation between you and the speaker
that takes place in your notebook
and you can recall that conversation later
it takes a little bit of practice to get to that point
But I hope that you will give it a try and practice it
and in fact I mean you get to started right now
so please get out something that you can write with
you can use a pencil and paper you can use a tablet or notebook and iPad
if you have nothing at all you can draw with your finger in the air, that's fine
we're gonna start by adding one icon to your visual library
and we´re going to start with one they usually stops people in their tracks
we are going to draw a person
it helps to have your objective in your mind before you get started so this is
the person that we're gonna draw
this is affectionately known as a star person
because in its simplest form
it looks like a star
but I've done years and years of research
and I find that people rarely stand like this
so, we're gonna give our person a little more natural posture
Are you ready to go? Everybody have something to draw with?
Ok, I'm gonna be zooming in and out,
while I do this, so you'll see things get bigger and smaller
a star person just starts with
and oval for the head,
please draw the oval for the head
then the next thing is, from the bottom of the oval
align the curves up-and-out
and that's the top as the upper east arm
doing they hand is very simple
it's a line straight down
and too little bumps
and there's your hand
and now we're going to complete the arm
with a curve line that comes back down and notice that these lines stops
almost underneath where the other line started
you don't want to go back under the head
or your person will have a too narrow body layer
it´s a pro tip
the other arm is a little boomerang
that goes out and comes back down
and after that we just draw to straight lines
for the legs
and these taper together a little bit at the bottom but they don't touch
them down at the bottom
we´re gonna add the feet
which is just too little curves
almost like a "w"
when you're almost done
we just need to add a few details and we are finished
so the first thing is a little triangle in this area
and that's the negative space inside the arm
the next thing is we´re going to give the person a little personality
with two little lines for the eyes
and finally
one straight line for the leg
and that will divide the two legs
and there you have
a star person
So it's entirely possible that you all locked in here
convinced that you couldn't draw
and now you´ve just drawn a person
that´s the first image for your mental library
if you practice this guy he'll be ready to drop in your notes whenever you need it
and he's very versatile for example
you can make them face a totally different direction
if you just draw the eyes a little differently
I´m going to draw them close together on one side of his head and watch what happens
he's looking to the side now
very versatile
so he's ready to pop into your notes,
where he can hail a taxi
he can make an announcement
he can raise an objection
and he can rally a group of people
all with this one little drawing
and that's how you get away with drawing in class
Thank you