Visual Notetaking: Sketchnoting The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Visual Notetaking: Watsons Go to Birmingham

I wrote a few weeks ago about implementing aspects of “visual notetaking” into my classroom as we were watching the presidential Inauguration Ceremonies as a way to keep them in “active listen mode.” I pulled the technique out again a few days ago as we hit the two chapters in the novel, Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, that I always read out loud to them. One is about a near drowning of the main character, Kenny, and the other is of the bombing of the church where Kenny’s sister, Joetta, is attending Sunday School (she’s is not hurt but Kenny sees things in the bombed-out church that no child should see).

Visual Notetaking: Watsons Go to Birmingham

Both chapters are high drama, and emotionally charged, as author Christopher Paul Curtis shifts the tone of the story from a whimsical tale of family and childhood to one of Civil Rights and violence. Reading these chapters out loud gives me a chance to pause, and coordinate the pace of the narrative for high effect and for questions that students might have, right in the moment after listening.

Visual Notetaking: Watsons Go to Birmingham

With sketchnoting, I was hoping my students would actively listen and pick up on some of the main themes of the chapters, with visuals as reminders, and it was very effective in many ways.

You can see the thinking of the student as they listened, and the sketches provided anchors of discussions afterwards.

Visual Notetaking: Watsons Go to Birmingham

Peace (let it be),
Kevin

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