This week in Networked Narratives, one of the assignments is to watch the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror on Netflix, which tackles through its dystopian vision how the world is revolving more and more on the “like economy.”
The Black Mirror Wiki (yes, of course, there is a thing) explains:
Lacie Pound lives in a world where anyone can rate your popularity out of five stars, from your friends to strangers you meet on the street.
As with other Black Mirror stories, this one takes the tech-infused idea to the extreme, as Lacie tumbles into social media wasteland after her own brother trends her downward.
I found the ending to be interesting, where Lacie has all of her approval technology removed after an episode, finds herself in jail and yet approaches real happiness and freedom when she starts to trade insults with another prisoner. They are no longer shackled by technology.
I decided to sketchnote the story as I watched the episode, to try to capture in doodles what I was seeing and thinking about. This was the second time I have seen Nosedive, so I sort of knew what was happening.
One of my goals for my sixth grade students this year is to learn how to do visual notetaking, or sketchnoting. When I asked each class of students how many doodled in the margins of notes, many hands went up. When I asked how many doodled to help remember what the teacher was saying or doodled as they were listening to a video or as they were reading a text to capture main ideas, very few hands stayed up.
We’re gonna bring those doodles into the main frame this year (and hopefully, not suck all of the fun out of drawing for them.)
I’ve started rather slow and simple. I traditionally begin the year reading Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi as my touchstone text for the year. It’s a story I will return to again and again as a common experience, and we work the story through discussions of protagonist, antagonist, conflict/resolution, foreshadowing and setting early and often.
Each day, after reading, I have shared my own sketchnotes with them (see the embedded images, which captured my drawings on the interactive board) and then talked my way through how the sketches help me remember characters and story. I also want them to show them that you don’t need to be a great artist to do this kind of work. You just need to have a library of shortcuts and a logical systems approach (my system moves from left to right, and then right to left, with arrows to help move me along in the reading).
That’s what this is all about: active listening. And it is what this particular class of students needs, given what I know about them in the past year and what I am already seeing. I am hoping the art element draws in more of them as learners.
I realize I have some questions yet to tackle when it comes to using this sketchnoting concept with them:
How to help students already easily distracted to listen and doodle at the same time?
How to help them filter out what is important enough to be doodled and how to figure out what to leave out?
How to teach them the use of artistic lettering in order to use words as art in meaningful ways?
How do I demonstrate that sketchnoting has actually helped improve their writing and understanding of complex topics?
How to help them form a personalized systematic approach for the flow of their own sketchtnoting?
These will all be on my mind as I move forward into the school year. If you have experience or advice, I am all ears. This concept got a real boost this summer with my CLMOOC experience, as we used the theme of art to explore visual notetaking in ways that inspired me to begin early, and often, with my students.
I also have used this book — Visual Note-taking for Educators — by Wendy Pillars to think about this whole concept, and now that I have started with students, I need to go back and re-read some of her helpful suggestions and ideas.