OK, full disclosure: this blog article is hard for me to write, because I am a perfectionist, and sketchnotes are definitely NOT a strength of mine!  I was completely out of my comfort zone with this pre-conference workshop.

In the interest of modeling a growth mindset, I will say that I am not good at sketch notes YET, and I will share today’s attempts, as well as some resources that I will use to get better with practice.

Our presenter, Karen Bosch, is a PreK – 8 Technology Instructor at Southfield Christian School in Southfield, Michigan.  She is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a 2016 Dremel Ideabuilder Ambassador.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with sketchnotes, they are visual notes that incorporate words, lines, shapes, color, and simple drawings.  In this hands on workshop we explored what a sketchnote is and why research identifies it as a powerful learning strategy.  Our first task was to take visual notes while the presenter shared some research about sketchnotes.  In fact, our presenter’s entire 79-page presentation was created as sketch notes.


Below is the outline of our time together:

1. What is a sketchnote? Why use sketchnotes as a part of learning experiences? What does research say about the benefits of taking sketchnotes? Paper vrs. Digital Sketchnotes.

2. An overview of iPad apps and styluses for sketchnotes. QuickStart tutorials for learning to use apps. Hands on exploration of apps. Demonstration of app techniques and hints.

APPS recommends for iOS:

  • Autodesk Sketchbook
  • Tayasui Sketches (free or Pro version)
  • Paper53

3. How to get started with taking digital sketchnotes. Hands on activities to practice sketchnote elements. Sharing with small groups.

  • sketch notes can be organized as:
    • lists
    • spokes
    • paths
    • boxes
    • popcorn
    • combo
  • text can be:
    • basic
      • CAPS
      • lowercase
    • bold
    • script
    • drama/glow
    • outline
    • fancy
  • text elements can be:
    • shapes
    • clouds
    • bursts
    • speech and thought bubbles
    • signs
    • flags
    • banners


4. Sketchnotes in Learning. Examples and ideas of sketchnote lessons from the presenter’s classroom. Hands on activity creating sketchnote based on participant’s curriculum. Sharing via Padlet.

We talked about how sketchnotes can be used in the classroom with students.  Below are some expectations that Karen uses with her students:

5. Resources to help those wishing to further explore sketchnoting, including a free iTunesU course.


  1. Dive right in and just TRY IT!  Explore what other educators are doing to get ideas.
  2. Prepare ahead of time when possible.  Create a template before you go to a conference and prepare one slide for each presenter.
  3. Use the zoom in/zoom out feature to get better detail
  4. Be aware of over/under tools and features.  You can often choose whether a line or paint can go behind a pre-existing line or in front of it.  You can use layers to write and color.  You can merge them after to move objects as a whole.
  5. If you’re at a conference and the presenter is going to fast, make sure you have a phone to take photos for later and a pen/notebook to jot anything important down.
  6. USE TWO STEPS!  Make notes during the presentation on one layer, and add the drawing and color detail to another layer when you get home.
  7. Use clipart for inspiration



BEST RESOURCE and WORKSHOP TAKE-AWAY: Free iTunes U Course “Digital Sketchnotes for Visualizing Learning by Apple Distinguished Educators

NEXT BEST RESOURCE: FREE “Sketchnoting for Teaching and Learning” eBook.  Karen joined with a  group of Apple Distinguished Educators at the ADE Institute in Berlin in July 2016 to develop a multitouch book about using sketchnotes in education. The book is available for free download and gives background, examples, and hints from educator sketchnotes.


Educator sketchnoters worth checking out:


Videos to Watch:


Books to Read:

Karen’s resources are all posted here:  https://sites.google.com/site/ipadmultimediatools/sketchnote-tools


And, as promised, my attempts: