Drawing Notes

I used to make fill-in-the-blank notes for my students to complete while watching a video. For a particular subset of students, that works well. Helping lower the barrier for learning by providing a construct for information gathering led to more engagement when it came time to use the information.

Then I took on AP Biology.

Some very wise people told me to teach the material and not provide so much structure. I wouldn't be able to put in the amount of time it would take to get everything pre-made. And boy, were they right. (I've taught AP Chem, but that was a long time ago. I needed their reminders.)

I've also wanted to move to a more free-form video...not as structured. More fluid. Focused more on deep content. Trying to write while I spoke at the same time was difficult to maintain. So, in response, I've moved to drawing out the lesson notes, scanning it, and talking over the pictures.


flickr photo shared by bennettscience under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


flickr photo shared by bennettscience under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

This has helped my students improve their own visual representations of the concepts. It's also helped me tell a better story (all science is a story anyways. Now it's an illustrated story).

I sketch the notes...maybe 20 minutes to get everything sorted, and then scan it in to the computer. I drop the image into Camtasia and go for it.

Low key, but early indications are that it's just as effective as fill in the blank. But now, students can fill in their own blanks.

4 thoughts on “Drawing Notes

  1. Love it. I’ve been using Procreate (an app for iPad) to do History-related drawings and am using the export video function (which shows every mark I’ve made, sped up) to do an RSA style draw & talk thing.

    Takes a lot of time and I’m still messing with it, but I love it.

    Interested to see where you go from here!

    • Brian Bennett says:

      I’d like to do something like that, but sans iPad, the work required doesn’t save me any time. I’ve stopped coloring with pencils and markers and now just scan a black/white copy and then fill in color with SketchBook. It gives higher quality images in the end.

      I looked at your YouTube channel and didn’t see any examples. Have one you can share? Do you talk while you’re drawing? Or do you voiceover and then combine in post?

  2. Audrey says:

    I just watched one – what a great visual! I’m wondering if it would work for math. Tech thoughts – so for the whole video the only medium you need in Camtasia is the scanned image of your own drawings, then you use the zoom/pan to move around it? And you use record camera to put yourself in too? This looks like one take!

    • Brian Bennett says:

      Hey Audrey, thanks :-)

      Yeah, as far as tech, low key. I draw it on paper (black pen on white) and then scan it at high resolution. I fill in color with SketchBook on my Mac and save it as a TIFF or other high-res file.

      Then, I open the image and talk through the notes in one go. Drop the picture into Camtasia and I’m done. I just got my hands on an iPad from school, so I’m going to play around with doing it digital from start to finish, but I kind of like doing it on paper first. It just means I need to be organized enough to give myself time to scan the paper so I can record and post before class.

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