Teaching with doodles

By | 2017-08-22T20:36:30+00:00 October 6th, 2015|For teachers|0 Comments

In part two of our series we talk to Melaine D’Cruze, a student of The Doodle Institute, about how she uses doodling within a family setting and as a teaching aid in Pakistan. She also shares her favourite resources, shows how she uses doodles to teach, and gives tips on how you can improve your own visual thinking.

Why did you decide to start learning to doodle?

I first came across The Doodle Institute when I was looking for resources to help me with visual thinking. I have always been interested in art and have been drawing and doodling since I was little. I never realized that there was a formal approach to doodling, or about its cognitive benefits till I came across a TED talk by Sunni Brown. On further online exploration I discovered quite a few useful resources that helped me get started to formalize my approach to visual thinking.

Although many stress that visual note taking is not about art, the artist in me saw it as a useful and visual way to ‘see’ ideas and present them in a meaningful way.

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As a teacher, how has doodling improved the way you communicate at school?

At Sunday School, I used doodles to visualize the lessons and encouraged the kids to visual their ideas. At home, I use doodling with my kids to help them express ideas and visualize the lessons taught at school. While using these techniques I felt that everyone was on the same page and each could see what the other meant.

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Do you doodle with your own children? What kind of things do you do and what effect does it have on them?

I doodle with my kids all the time. We doodle on paper, glass, whiteboards, notebooks, napkins, envelopes… anything that we can use as a writing surface to express our ideas creatively. We also love art and set aside some time each day to draw, doodle, colour, paint while discussing the events of our day. We doodle while waiting for our meals at restaurants, while waiting at the doctors, in the car, while travelling-anyplace where we can use a notebook and some markers. We also doodle when there is school homework to be done and there are concepts that are unclear-visualizing these help make those ideas and concepts clear and allow for quick memorization and synthesis of facts. Doodling also helps with analysing information that you lay out as a big picture. I also feel that doodling empowers children to express themselves where they cannot do so with words and can help us to communicate with them in the same way. Eg. My four-year-old cannot read, but if I leave him instructions with pictures, he follows through. I’ve also made a few hand-drawn speech therapy prompt cards which we have found to be quite useful.

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We watch art/doodle ‘how to draw’ videos together to build our visual thinking skills. We especially love watching Diane teaching us to draw on her Periscopes and of course the course content of the Doodle Institute, which has been very valuable for our learning.

Do you think doodling could help students and, if so, why?

Doodling could help any learner to put their ideas on paper and see the solutions visually. Doodling helps with planning of learning-related tasks, memory retention, organization information, problem solving and idea sharing. Mind maps in particular help students visualize concepts or content to better understand the relationships between sub-concepts.

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Do you have a message for other teachers that might be thinking about learning to doodle?

Doodling is valuable learning tool, one that can help the teacher share ideas about the lesson visually. It is a useful way to teach students concepts that they find difficult to absorb. “To draw is to make an idea precise”-Henri Matisse.

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Anything else you’d like to add about the doodling experience?

For anyone who’d like to get started with doodling, here are some tips based on my own experience:

  • Never be afraid to draw. Anyone and everyone can. If you can write, you can draw.
  • Draw/doodle anything and everything, e.g. a thought, an idea, a plan, what you ate at breakfast, your kids, info about a book you just read.
  • Carry a small notepad and a pen or a pencil everywhere. You never know when inspiration can strike. If you don’t have a notepad on you draw on anything you can get your hands on e.g. whiteboard, envelopes, napkin, an old bank statement.
  • Caption your drawings – words and visuals are a really good combination to get an idea across.
  • Read up on concepts such as ‘visual note taking’, ‘sketchnoting’, and ‘visual thinking’.
  • Make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Share what you learn with everyone – friends, family, colleagues at work – visually.

Here are some of the resources that I have been using to develop my own visual note taking skills:

About Melaine D’Cruze:

Melaine’s career started as a Music Instructor, and as Choir Director for her local church. She also taught the 6-13 age group at Sunday School.

In her previous job as Assistant Manager, eLearning, Melaine taught university students ICT for Teaching and Learning. In her current position as Senior Coordinator, Professional Development Centre, Karachi at the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, she offers continuing professional education courses for teachers.

Check out her Flickr page where she shares the visual notes that she takes. Browse her collection of visual note taking resources on her  Pinterest board, or follow her on Twitter.

Read part one of the doodling series, The importance of doodling, here.


Do your children doodle? Upload the results to Creatubbles – it’s free!

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