Wonder Powers Unite to Form…SketchSnaps

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you’ve probably recognized that I love both BookSnaps and sketchnotes as tools in the classroom. But the other night I started thinking of how to combine some of the things I find most effective and helpful in the classroom, and I came up with the idea of the SketchSnap.


If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you’ve probably recognized that I love both BookSnaps and sketchnotes as tools in the classroom. But as I was contemplating how to combine techniques I love for reflection and understanding, I decided the SketchSnap was what I was looking for.

So…what the what?

Well, if you’re not familiar with BookSnaps, they were the brainchild of Tara Martin @TaraMartinEDU. By combining pictures of what you’re reading with text boxes, emojis, drawings, and Bitmojis, you’re capturing a visually appealing, quick to interact with graphic that works well in classrooms and even in professional circles. Since their inception, other people have adapted them to work in other creative ways with ideas such as #GratitudeSnaps, #EDUsnaps, and #CoachSnaps. In my classroom, we frequently use #BookSnaps to interact with text in order to make inferences, summarize, and reflect on books and stories we’re reading. If you need a quick tutorial on how to create a BookSnap, click here. (Snapchat and Seesaw are my favorite ways of creating BookSnaps, and Seesaw is my favorite place for displaying BookSnaps so that students get to interact with them in a safe social-media like environment.)

An EDUsnap I created to share an idea from my classroom that day.


book cover student booksnap
Student example of a BookSnap where students were asked to make an inference about a book based on only the cover image and title.


The Power of Sketchnotes Intensified

Sketchnotes are a powerful tool in the classroom. If you’re not familiar with them or have been thinking about trying them but still haven’t committed, check out my last blog post first, Let’s Talk About Sketch.

To me, the beauty of sketchnotes is in the fact that the students are making their own visual notes that allow both the left and right parts of the brain to be activated, allowing for better and more retention. The notes become more meaningful to them. In fact, some students struggle with the idea of sketchnotes at first because you’re asking them to step away from having notes handed to them and asking them to process and summarize the material in their own words.

The other day, my students were learning about people who were considered heroes of 9/11. Each student chose at least two heroes, heroic stories, or a combination of both to represent in a sketchnote. After completing the sketchnotes, students shared their choices with the class and explained what it was about the heroes that grabbed their attention over the other heroes. That night as I was thinking about the variety of sketchnotes I had seen that day and the reasons they gave, I started to think about how the sketchnotes could be used reflectively in an easily shareable format, like the BookSnap, and that’s when the idea hit me.

So I decided to use a student’s sketchnote and see what it would look like with the reflective piece added, and this is what I created. The words were my student’s. She was moved by how young these people were who willingly walked into danger and death.The SketchSnap adds the one missing piece to the sketchnote, the reflection. You can use an essential question, write an open-ended question, or ask students to write a question to answer that requires their own reflection over their notes.

This means that now your students are interacting with their sketchnotes and will be forced to reflect on whether those notes contained all/enough important information or if the sketchnotes were lacking. If the student finds his sketchnotes lacking, what a great opportunity for him to reflect on why/how the notes could be improved. This reflection can easily be adapted into partner work as well where students work together to see how they would answer the question differently based on their different versions of sketchnotes. They could discuss:

  1. How were their notes more or less effective when trying to answer the question?
  2. How were their answers alike? How were they different?
  3. What are elements of their notes they might change the next time?
  4. Practice formulating arguments by asking them to defend their answer to their partner.

Sketch it and reflect upon it.

You know what BookSnaps are, and you know what sketchnotes are; whether you’ve ever tried them before or not, you have everything you need to start today. Try it. Take a chance. See how adding an easily accessible reflective piece can make student note taking (and your own) even more meaningful.

And then come back here and share your experiences! Happy SketchSnapping!

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