April 11

Doodling Sparks Learning

Did you notice the Google Doodle yesterday?  I thought it looked so springy and fresh and I noticed the sitar because my granddaughter, Lillie, created a musical instrument for her science class this week.

Lillie instrument

Here is a grainy cell phone photo of Lillie with her guitar.

Lillie was quite pleased and took it to school to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for her classmates.  Most of the time when the Google Doodle pops up, I feel like I’m just too busy to see what is going on with it and I just enter my search info and move on.  I decided that I should check out the Google Doodle with the sitar this week, though.  Did you see it?

Sitar Google Doodlevia

The read was quite interesting.  I learned all about Pandit Ravi Shankar who introduced the Beatles to the sitar.  At the bottom of the article is a cool infographic which gives a brief outline of the history of Google Doodles.  The top of it looks like the image below but I encourage you to scroll to the bottom of the afore-linked article and read the whole thing.

doodle timeline

Being the nerd that I am, I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I also dug in a bit and went to the Google Doodles webpage.  There were many that I had never paid one bit of attention to and didn’t even recall.  Those things are really cool, though!

You also might want to go to The History of Doodles where you can learn where the idea for Doodles came from and who designs the Doodles and how many doodles have been created.  You can also go to the Doodle 4 Google link and see the 2015 contest winners.

What else held my fascination for all this doodling?  Well, I have seen my friend Andi do some beginning sketchnoting but that is another story for another day.

andi's sketchnotes

The topic became one of extreme fascination and I felt much like a foxhound sniffing around for a pesky fox after a bit.  Isn’t that really the way learning should be, though?  Shouldn’t we have something that sparks our interest and then something else that urges us onward?  Reading all this information certainly inspired me to dig deeper and learn more – even on a topic that isn’t earth shattering.  Why don’t we allow students to find inspiration such as that which will spark their learning?  I’d be willing to bet that if I were a music teacher, for example, or a civics teacher, I could have posted something similar to the Google Doodle which would relate to my lesson and off my students would scamper sniffing and learning.  In fact, I know for certain it does.

One of my lessons when I was in the classroom and introducing a unit of study focused on the Holocaust went something like this:

  1. I selected a strip of paper out of a stack about a person whose name could be found in a stack of USHMM Identification Cards that I had printed out for students.
  2. I found that person’s card and drew a rough outline of a butterfly on the white board.  Then, on one wing of the butterfly I began sketching different things which would be a symbol for that person – interests, family members, occupation, etc. – all sketches – no words.
  3. On the other wing of the butterfly I sketched symbols which represented me and things of importance in my life – my children, my hobbies, etc.
  4. Next, students selected a strip of paper and got the ID Card of their chosen name.  Using construction paper, markers, foam pieces, stickers, etc., students created their own butterflies.  We strung thes from the ceiling and left them hanging for nine weeks.
  5. At the end of the nine week study, students learned the fate of the person listed on their ID Card.  If the person survived, the the butterfly was left hanging.  If the person did not survive, the yarn holding the butterfly was snipped and a pile of butterflies was made on a table at the front of the classroom.

There was so much learning with this simple project!

  1. Students made a connection to these people living in a difficult time without so many luxuries as we enjoy.
  2. The reality of a life being cut short because of a horrific situation was symbolized with the construction paper butterfly and certainly made students pause and think.
  3. The students learned that folks living during that era led lives very much like our own.
  4. Students were distracted by the swaying butterflies in our classroom at first.  As the days went by, we began to ignore them – just like the Concentration Camp folks and bodies were treated during the Holocaust.

I know that there were many more lessons learned by a simple set of doodles made on construction paper but the idea is that here were big ole’ eighth grade boys who were creating something with construction paper, pipe cleaners, glue, markers, etc.  and were enjoying the learning at the same time.

Later, when students were asked to select a topic of interest for a long-term research project and formal essay report, most of them had ready topics and were very curious and interested to know more about it.  They dug in and learned and I often had to remind them to stop searching for more information and get going with the compilation of their paper!

Sometimes a simple doodle is all it takes to get students thinking and learning!

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Posted April 11, 2016 by Beverly Ozburn in category creativity, inquiry, learning, music, reading, research, teaching strategies

About the Author

I'm Beverly Noland Ozburn and my experience as a professional educator began in 1994 right here in Williamson County when I became a paraprofessional at Page High School. I worked there until 2003 when I graduated with my M.Ed. in Reading and went to Bedford County where I worked as a classroom reading teacher. Most recently, I was a middle school language arts/reading/writing teacher in Rutherford County. I have served as a Co-Director for the local National Writing Project site and as an adjunct professor at Columbia State Community College. Recently, I have served as a consultant for the Tennessee Department of Education's Electronic Learning Center and for Scholastic, Inc. My education includes a B.S. in Agriculture from The University of Tennessee. I earned a certification to teach secondary English and a M.Ed. from Middle Tennessee State University. My introduction to the world of education began when I was five-years-old and my sister was born. I was in first grade and became her teacher as soon as she learned to focus her attention on me for even a brief moment. Oh, the things she learned! I'm sure my mother was thrilled at times. Later, I was the first teacher to guide my two children. If I knew then what I know now... Today I have the joy of learning from our four granddaughters and grandson. I know that there are also times when I teach them unintentionally because my daughter has chastised me for things they repeated after visiting with my husband and me! As a lifelong learner, I am always absorbing, borrowing, and stealing from the folks around me. As a teacher, I'm glad to share those ideas and that knowledge with others. Each day I look forward to working with teachers integrating technology into their instruction and can be contacted at: beverlyo@wcs.edu

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