Students are gathered for a group photo at Vaughan Elementary School's Family Engagement Night

“Sketch-noting” is a new, powerful method of notetaking that blends drawing and writing together as you experience or learn something new. At Vaughan Elementary School, “sketch-noting” took the school by storm at the “Fall Festival of Nations” Family Engagement Night. The evening began with a lesson for families on what this method of learning entails and how students utilize it in the classroom.

Students and their families were provided a passport to visit different stations to reinforce the lesson by practicing right away. At the “Math Around the World” station, math games from Italy, Kenya, and Somalia were shared with families, along with colored pencils to “sketch-note” together. At the “Reading and Research” station, students and families visited the library to learn about the different countries Vaughan Elementary students and families represent and “sketch-note” what they learned about different countries’ currency, official language, exports, cultural food, and more.

To celebrate the diverse backgrounds of the students, families brought in cultural dishes from around the world to share with others. In addition, several students and families wore traditional clothing, and students performed traditional dances to cultural music.

When asked what it meant to participate in this activity, fifth grade student Geraldine Castro Gonzalez shared, “I liked to be able to show my family how I use ‘sketch-noting’ in class. It was fun to do it with my family because they were able to give me more ideas.”

Geraldine’s sibling Scarlett, a fourth-grader, added, “I like to add squiggles of color to help me memorize or remember something. It helps me to not get bored and still have fun while learning.”

Kayla McNamara, Title I teacher at Vaughan, shared why it’s so important for students to know and understand “sketch-noting,” “[It] is a great way for students to access different parts of their brain while learning. All students can have their own style and way to ‘sketch-note.’ Understanding that its purpose is to help their own learning encourages them to take notes in a way that works for their brain.”

Mark Boyd, principal at Vaughan, shared, “When we sat down to plan our Family Engagement Night, we considered our purpose, which is to provide leverage to parents in supporting student learning and increasing family engagement in school.

These strategies are research-based best practices which support vocabulary development and language acquisition for all students and are especially impactful for multilingual learners. We also viewed our event as an opportunity to continue strengthening our school's [Positive] Climate and Culture by recognizing, understanding, and celebrating the diverse cultures of our students.”

Participacion familiar y communitaria. Family and community engagement.