Sleep & Sketchnoting

I’m sitting down to write this blog post while my 2 year old is sleeping. He has been struggling since we set the clocks back and has caught a cold,  so today when he had a meltdown at 10:30 am, I decided that nap time was going to come about 2 hours earlier than normal.

I myself woke up super early on Friday to take the train into Boston for the ACTFL conference, joining thousands of world language teachers from all over the country. It was an exciting and jam-packed day and by the time I got home, my brain was just crammed full of new ideas and experiences. What I needed was a good night’s sleep to let my brain sort it all out!

While I was at the conference on Friday, I left an article on just that topic- the importance of sleep and its impact on our ability to learn and process our surroundings – for my 21st Century Skills class. I hoped that they would read the article and take notes, but I wondered how much they would get done with their minds focused on important soccer and football games, FAST and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  In order to make the task a more interesting, I asked them to try their hands at sketchnoting, a type of note taking that includes doodling, creating graphic organizers and using color/font to remember important details. Wow! With no prior experience and only a quick online tutorial, they did a great job on the task! Looking through their sketchnotes, I think that they will serve as a great way to jog our memories of the contents of the article when we meet on Tuesday for class. Additionally, I hope that the act of creating the images/diagrams will help bring the information into their long-term memories. I attended a couple of sessions at ACTFL related to the best strategies for learning vocabulary and using images and making personal connections were just a few of the ideas we explored! Check out some examples of the sketchnotes below! And… try to get a good night’s sleep this evening-it really is important!

Visualizing our goals

In 21st Century Skills, we are wrapping up a unit centered around setting goals. Most recently, students were asked to explore the technique of visualization in order to help them focus on achieving one of their previously written SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Timely) goals. The assignment required each student to write a short, newspaper-style article in which they reported on their goal as if they had already achieved it. Additionally, they needed to include an image (with their own face photoshopped in if necessary)! documenting the event. I’ve hung these articles on the bulletin boards in my classroom and although the black and white images aren’t as attractive as the color versions handed in online, the headlines attract immediate attention: “Nipmuc Student Wins Big,” “Student Lands Breakout Role in Major Play,” “One Album Down, Many to Go,” and “Caution: New Driver.”

My hope is that students will find inspiration in the daily reminder of the goals that they have set for themselves. Also, we will check in formally before the end of Term 2 to see if they have made progress!