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drawn notes

i grew up with a master teacher.  my mom taught seventh and eighth grade at the the same neighborhood school for over 30 years.  it was very common for us to be at a yard sale or in the check out line at the grocery and to hear someone we didn’t know calling out her name.  they always said she was their favorite teacher.  and they almost always mentioned working on a specific project.july 2011 060before curriculum became standardized and Shakespeare graduated to the high school level, my mom taught Romeo and Juliet each year.  (can you imagine how well she knows that play?!)  one of the highlights was creating a book of drawn notes.  this was a personal collection of favorites lines, bits of dialog, and famous speeches.  the student would copy out the text and then illustrate it with a quick original sketch or a collage from magazine pictures.  my strongest memory of being in her classroom was when kids would be working on their drawn notes.  she would have text in hand and be walking around the room.  kids would be up and about, busy with glue sticks and colored pencils.  her classroom was loud and busy, a very productive and happy place.

for the collage work students usually used a standard sheet of paper (often sheets of construction paper or paper in some pretty color).  i also remember a sort of comic book template she had made: imagine turning the paper longways and drawing six squares with a Sharpie for each small illustration with just enough space in between to write a few lines.  for my young scholars i think Donna Young’s story paper would be perfect.

i really want to incorporate drawn notes into my own study, a combination of sketchnotes and more fluid illustrations to accompany the commonplace entries in my journal.  leading by example!


  1. drawn notes were so much fun…and a great way for students to digest a scene or character…I loved them and told my students the more they looked like 3rd grade work, the better. Stick figures rock! Thanks for remembering them.

  2. I’ve always had my kids write down the things that struck them in a history or literature or science lesson, and then illustrate. Now I’ve got a name for it–‘drawn notes’. ♥

  3. Mama, did i leave anything out?

    Susan–i love the thought of you calling your long-standing practice drawn notes! wonderful!

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