An email from Elissa that should get some varied responses:
Hi Ben!
I have a bunch of questions, and promise I’ll call you sometime on your commute but in the meantime I’m wondering what your thoughts on doodling are. I’m trying to prohibit it– I can’t have eye contact when a kid is focused on drawing– but kids are using the “i need to doodle in order to focus” argument. Today I asked if they doodle when they watch a movie and most said “well, no…..” . Ha!
I insisted that hard core doodlers stop doodling today and then they spilled water on their desks and were doodling in the water!
Thoughts? Suggestions?
My response: Elissa my question is this – why are they not making eye contact? Dogs don’t make eye contact over trust issues. They need to hide because they don’t feel safe. Or not welcome. That would go back to how you personalized the room at the first of the year. Somehow, I can’t see that as a problem for you. You have worked hard on personalization and you teach in a very welcoming way. Your style is so direct and permission giving and you always have that ready smile. That’s not it.
So what is it? Why do they doodle in your classroom? Besides the trust issue, doodling is a normal human reaction to having been told since the beginning of one’s schooling to write stuff down. People think that if a kid writes it down, they are learning it. So now here you are asking them to show up as human beings because you know how people really acquire languages, via reciprocal and participatory social skills. You tell them to do their 50%. But since they never have been held socially responsible in any of their classes by the teacher, only academically so, they revert to what they know – hiding.
I just don’t allow it. I don’t go for the lame “it helps me focus” argument. I make it a big deal, embarrassing the kid. So sue me. I am going to enforce my rules. I have this move with my first two fingers, one pointing at each eye, and I smile and make it clear that I won’t go further until the kid stops doodling.
Like I know what doodling is caused by.There must be some expert with a Ph.D in Doodling Theory. I wonder what others will say about this.



4 thoughts on “Doodling”

  1. Thanks, Ben.
    I’d love to hear more about how people use “class artists”. Seems like a great way to let kids draw while keeping them focussed on the class. This is something I started doing last week and it was great. I had a couple of students draw the one-word image we created. What about with pqa/stories… ideas?

  2. I think class artist sounds like an interesting idea – what about on whiteboards or something, take a little one and divide it into panels with masking or electrical tape, and they have to draw each event as we pull it together? There’s a “differentiation piece” for the kid who hates to participate orally but loves to doodle. Whiteboard because then they can’t get too carried away with shading and stuff, but then we could take a picture of it at the end of class to print out or show later. If you have the iPhone, I use Whiteboard Capture Lite (maybe no longer available?) or Whiteboard Share to get all the information off the whiteboard before erasing.

  3. From a doodler:
    I love the artist idea because it adds accountability. The class needs/wants to see the story afterwards. I doodled when I was bored. Still do…you should see me in those meetings we have about uhh…can´t remember what because I was doodling!

  4. In my 7th grade classes I have many so many students that want to be the artist that they spontaneously draw the story as we tell it. During class and at the end of class 3 or 4 students hand me papers with their illustrations. They are so enthusiastic about the illustrations that we are going to compile the stories and their illustrations into a book and donate to the local preschool. For one of my 7th graders in particular who joined the class after the school year began, it has been the only way for her to engage in the class thus far.

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