Artist in Training

March 2, 2020

Messing Around

I have always had a passion for making things. Whether it was clothes, ornaments, decorations or handmade cards I always enjoyed the process of creating. Finding DIY projects on Pinterest or learning new art forms, I would spend hours tinkering and messing around. But I wouldn’t consider myself an artist. It’s just an interest. Art is something that makes me feel happy, relaxed, and creative. I am not always good at the things I try, but I still enjoy the activity and the process. 

The first part of the process for me is to research ideas. I like to use Pinterest or Instagram for this step. Then I start to find and follow people who are really good at these things. Once I’ve done that, I find classes to join or videos that teach me to a particular skill. Lastly, I practice. Sometimes I practice something new like embroidery, mess around with it a bit, and then move onto something else.

Dog bowls I made in my pottery class.

Road to Sketchnoting

The one creative process that I have never moved on from or maybe never stopped wishing I could do better, was drawing. Perhaps if I would have listened to Kaufman in The first 20 hours — how to learn anything, I would have started my 20 hours many years ago before taking a watercolor class (I skipped a step in the process!)

I was still left with the feeling , I wish I could draw too. I could trace a picture or look at a doodle online and copy it, but I wanted to have some ability to sketch on the go-for times when I want to help my students take visual notes or for times when I feel like doodling on the airplane to pass time.

While I was learning how to watercolor with my friend and artist, Jane Mitchell, I realized that the class was difficult for me because I did not know how to draw well. My very patient teacher helped me take baby steps towards overcoming my inability to draw. She gave me helpful drawing tips and eventually showed me a way to trace a portrait of my dog onto the paper so I could paint him. I was quite happy with the outcome too! However, I still did not feel confident in my ability to draw.

Watercolor painting of my dog, Bowser.

The Game Changer

Then I heard about sketchnoting from my colleague @AlexisSnider15.  Like me, she did not feel like an artist, but sketchnoting allowed her to focus on the key ideas while sitting through workshops or model notetaking to her students in a visual way. Luckily, she was able to get the sketchnoting guru, Sylvia Duckworth, to lead a workshop at our school this year.


Photo by Sylvia Duckwork on sylviaduckworth.com

During this time, I learned how to draw different fonts, people, and icons related to school.  The workshop didn’t feel like professional development for me. It felt like something I wanted to pursue for my own interests (in addition to professionally). It was relaxing, enjoyable, and FUN!

Because of my connection with my colleague and her knowledge of Sylvia Duckworth, I was brought into the world of sketchnoting. This led me to find other resources on sketchnoting through Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, which eventually led me to take Jen Giffen’s course: Learn to Sketchnote (February 29-April 11, 2020). This is a prime example of using connections to learn and grow as Mimi Ito describes in Learning in Social Media Spaces. Learning is a process and the same principles we apply to our students can be applied to our own lives.

My process towards taking this course reminds me of the Living in New Media article. For the past few months, I have been messing around with sketchnoting. As I started to find that I enjoyed it as a hobby, I started using outside resources (Pinterest,etc.). Initially, I was just messing around with it, but now I am totally geeking out about sketchnoting by taking this course.

“When youth transition to more focused interest-driven practices, they will generally reach beyond their local network of technical and media expertise, but the initial activities that characterize messing around are an important starting point for even these youth.” Living with New Media

Learn to Sketchnote

My course started on Saturday and it is run through Google Classroom until April 11. There are people from over 15 countries represented in the class (another way to grow my PLN!). The course is super laid-back and students can go at their own pace (plus!) Each day I receive a Daily Doodle task to complete and each week I receive a Weekly Challenge. I can share my work with classmates using Google Slides or Twitter, and classmates can offer me feedback as well.

Action Plan

  1. Register for “Learn to Sketchnote” with Jenn Giffin
  2. Begin course on February 29, 2020
  3. Complete the Daily Doodle  (spend 10 minutes five times a week to practice Daily Doodle skill)
  4. Complete the Weekly Challenge (This week: Selfie Sketchnote)
  5. Share on Google Slides with classmates & offer feedback to others
  6. Post my work on social media using the hashtag #TodayISketchnotED
  7. Write a Weekly Reflection using Flip Grid
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for the next six weeks.

As I write my Action Plan, I am already feeling anxious about what I need to get done throughout this process. Online Learning due to Coronavirus has me spending WAY too much time on my computer. So with that being said, I am going to get my colored pencils, sketchbook, and How To Sketchnote: A Step-By-Step Manual for Teachers and Students by Sylvia Duckworth book out and get the process started!

Weekly Challenge: Selfie Sketchnote.

Author: Andrea Goodrich

I am an international educator working in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have been working overseas for the past 13 years. I started my career in a bilingual school in Guayama, Puerto Rico as a fifth and sixth-grade reading teacher. Then I moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and taught fourth grade for two years. While living in Ecuador, I met my husband and we moved to Seoul, South Korea together. In Seoul, I taught fifth grade for two years and then moved into a literacy specialist role. We are now teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam with our two Korean rescue dogs.

3 thoughts on “Artist in Training”

  1. You are literally ‘Living Boldly’ Andrea and embracing sketchnoting, and so many other things too. Your enthusiasm for it is ‘infecious’ (in a good way) and your students’ sketchnoting skills are pretty awesome too. I’m so glad we get to Sketchnote together!

  2. When I was in high school, I had a Biology teacher that would make these amazing drawings on the chalkboard. I still remember the time he drew a chicken on the moon to talk about the origin of life and the time he drew a huge shark to talk about food webs. A couple of years ago, I started looking up on Youtube how to draw things and following their step-by-step. Notably, I was able to draw cows, turtles, palm trees and cornfields for a lesson on speciation and a different lesson on the carbon cycle. My more artistic kids were impressed.

    Because of that experience in High School, especially, I’ve always been looking for a “drawing course for teachers”, with zero luck. The sketchnote course you shared might be something right up my alley, and I’ve already added it to my to-do list for my year off. Thank you so much!

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