Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

The great ones all have their thing. Some express their learning through sketchnotes, symbolizing deep learning with simple graphics. Yet, other blogging big-timers compose their reflections mostly in text only, with very little–if any–pictures. Occasionally, they may include a meme, artwork, presentation slide, or a saying with a landscaped background.

And then there’s me–Somewhere in the middle.

On Sketchnotes

If you google: “What is a sketchnote?” you’d see this definition from sketchnotearmy.com:

Sketchnotes are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don’t require high drawing skills, but do require a skill to visually synthesize and summarize via shapes, connectors, and text. Sketchnotes are as much a method of note taking as they are a form of creative expression.”

I heard Sylvia Duckworth herself define the sketchnoting process in an ignite talk at #iste17:


  • When I see a sketchnote, my brain screams in a million different directions at the same time. It’s hard for me to process so many drawings, designs, and maybe colors at the same time. Sketchnotes appear over-stimulating at first glance. Pinterest and I are not best friends–yet.
  • I doodled something meaningful–in that moment of learning. But one week later I’d have no idea what all my poorly-drawn pictures were supposed to symbolize. My sketchnotes lost context and meaning in translation over time.
  • It was hard for me to doodle and listen at the same time. When I’d try to deep-process, my multi-taking abilities failed. Miserably.
  • Conclusion: Sketchnotes are just not how I initially process. I’m going to try to be in the moment, process, and reflect through carefully-detailed sketchnotes later.

On Text

Bloggers who post frequently–at least weekly—literally don’t have time to pack their reflections with several links, pictures, graphics, memes, slides, and artwork. However, what IS interesting is that posts from people like George Couros and Bill Ferriter are SO engaging, whereas even if you occasionally disagree, you can’t stop reading. Besides opportunities for personal growth thru reflection, THAT is the name of the game.


  • When I see a lengthy blog or chapters in a book with never-ending text, my brain also screams in a million different directions at the same time, as if to say:
  • Wait–What do you mean? There are NO breaks for me as the reading audience? It becomes a sprint where my brain is left panting, out-of-breath. Possibly overwhelmed–definitely exhausted at first glance. “There’s NO WAY I’ll have time to read ALL of THAT!
  • Somewhere, there’s research stating that the human brain remembers things in chunks, or segments, perhaps in small packets or groups of twos, threes, and fours–like social security numbers.
  • When I read lengthy passages where there are no breaks in text, I shut down; process; take a break; refocus; and begin again.
  • Conclusion: My goal is to post for my own reflection and personal growth. In format, I’m going to strive to write blogs like the great ones do: short enough not to be overwhelming, yet long enough to have far-reaching, deep implications.

In the Middle

Twitter and I are best friends. Perhaps it’s the image(s) or video, paired with 280 characters or less, that’s trained my brain to think and process in seemingly shorter segments. In fact, I’m guilty of wondering: “Why doesn’t everyone express their learning thru tweets–during daily learning experiences, a conference, or even a staff or central office meeting?” Yet, deep-down, I know: Everyone doesn’t learn, process, or express their learning like me.

  • When well-thought paragraphs are routinely broken up by media, it’s almost like I get a sense of accomplishment, having achieved a benchmark in my reading journey, and therefore, increased confidence that I CAN finish the entire passage, deeply-process it, and fully appreciate it in the very little time I have intentionally carved out to read and reflect during the week. Even when rereading this right now–every bulleted point I finish, I’m feeling progress.
  • Seems like I have heard everyone say: “I’m a very visual learner.” I believe that everyone is a very combo-learner–at least to some extent. Transferring back-and-forth between visuals and text gives my brain different options to process, not to mention a break once in a while. It also keeps me alert.

I’m in the middle–I’m between sketchnotes and text.

  • When processing through just pictures or just text, I start thinking about my To-Do List instead of the content I’m reading. And I would argue that my attention span is longer than most people’s I know.
  • Children and adults segment their learning experiences and activities throughout the day. Why don’t we also segment our blogs and times for reflection? We segment our creation and consumption–Why not our reflection?

  • Conclusion: These days, no one has time to read more than 400-500 words in one sitting. I’ve even been told by a close friend:

Can you keep your blogs a little shorter? I just need a little something from you, and then leave me with just one thing to think about.”

  • But reflecting as a ballad instead of a hit single still holds so much learning value for my professional reflection and growth. Part of me doesn’t want to be like everyone else. I gotta do ME. I’m in the middle. Part of me just wants to turn the radio up!

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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