Used Effectively or Simply Used?

Used Effectively or Simply Used?

Beth Holland shared her presentation “Used Effectively or Simply Used” from the ASCD conference 2015 as a slide deck via Twitter.

The message from her slides caught my attention… I kept thinking about the questions Beth proposes we ask when we walk into a classroom:

  • Are students engaged?
  • Are students creating artifacts as evidence of their own understanding?
  • Are students constructing their own knowledge?
  • Are students sharing their learning?
  • Are student reflecting on their learning?

I have noticed that sketching a message (spending time thinking more intensely about it)

  • helps me think about the topic on a different level
  • I am making different types of connections
  • I seem to remember the message better, based on the fact, that I sketched, colored, arranged and doodled around it
  • doodling seems to activate a different area in my brain than reading alone or writing text with bullets on a paper or typing them up
  • choosing font styles or filling in letter outlines with colors gives me extra time to think about hierarchy and keyword importance
  • makes me concentrate on the message I want to convey
  • focuses me on the most important part of the presentation and how I could represent it

Have I used technology effectively, when I created the above sketchnote?

  • Did I create an artifact to show my understanding of learning from Beth’s slide deck?… Yes, the sketchnote was created
  • Did I share my learning? Yes, I shared by writing this blog post and by sharing the image via Twitter
  • Did I reflect on my learning? Yes, creating the sketchnote was NOT an artistic exercise, but a tool for my reflection process.
  • Was I engaged? Yes, I was self-motivated and focused on doodling the message I extracted as valuable from Beth’s presentation
  • Did I construct my own knowledge? I maybe could have done a better job in ADDING additional questions or connect to other ideas. I was able to connect learning from/with Beth’s presentation to my sketchnoting exploration.

Could I have used a piece of paper, instead of the iPad app (the technology involved here)? I could have… some people can… I am completely inapt to draw or write legibly on a piece of paper…

cross posted at

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at