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Elisa Vargas Library: Note Taking

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Note Taking

Note-taking tool

Cornell Notes

Visual Note Taking

Flow-Based Note Taking

Bullet Point Notes

Taking Notes with Google Draw

Berlin wall visual notes

Brain benefits of visual notetaking


How to do it

Here are some features of Google Drawings you can use to create these visual notes:

  • Images that students can use responsibly can be found by clicking “Insert > Image … > Search”. Students can annotate on those images (i.e. add text, circle important parts, underline with the line tool, etc.).
  • Using the “Take a snapshot” option when inserting an image, students can use the camera embedded in their devices to snap their own pictures to add to visual notes.
  • Use shapes to organize information (i.e. use a rectangle shape like I did for “Versions of the wall” above to set groups of facts apart from others).
  • Lines can connect facts. Think of a semantic map/word web. I used those dotted lines to connect ideas in the Berlin Wall visual notes, but I probably didn’t need to. They would be more useful if the connections between ideas were more complex.
  • Grab the bottom right corner of a Google Drawing and drag it to make the canvas bigger. If you’re running out of room, just make the canvas bigger and rearrange what you already have on it.
  • App smashing (using multiple sites/apps/etc. to create a single product) works wonderfully here! I used some sketches I did in the Paper app by FiftyThree and pulled them into my book summary above.
  • A screen capture tool like Snagit for Google Chrome can help you grab images and text from other sources. I used Snagit to capture the definition of “textbook”. (Be careful, though … even screen captures of images still need to be used responsibly and in line with the rights of the creator.)
  • Add links. Highlight text, images or even shapes and click the link button (or use Ctrl+K) to create a clickable link to take viewers to websites/videos/etc. with more information.

Sharing Google Drawings visual notes

These notes can be shared in a number of ways:

  • Provide a link to let others view. Use the blue “Share” button and set sharing as “Anyone with the link can view”. When viewing this way, links can be clicked by the viewer.
  • Download an image file to attach to a document, a slide presentation or something else. Click “File > Download as … > JPEG image”. Any links in the Drawing can not be clicked in a JPEG image.
  • Download as a PDF file to email to others or attach to a website. Click “File > Download as … > PDF Document”. When viewing this way, links can be clicked by the viewer.
  • Embed the notes in a website or in your class in certain learning management systems (like Canvas, Schoology, etc.). Click “File > Publish to the web …”. Click the blue “Publish” button and “OK.” Then copy the HTML code in the “embed” part of the window. Paste that HTML code in your website in a place where it says “embed” or “HTML”. Any links in the Drawing can not be clicked in an embedded Drawing on your website.


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