Drawing to Learn X 6

Drawing to Learn X 6

In today’s second meeting of my Drawing to Learn class, I introduced six “drawing to learn” strategies to my students with the icons above: drawing to calm (coloring), drawing to listen (doodling), drawing to record (sketch-noting), drawing to create (handmade thinking), drawing to see (representing), and drawing to present or show (illustrated speaking).

The main focus of today’s class was drawing to calm.  I had previously distributed to each student a set of colored pencils, and today I provided them a number of mandalas to choose from and to color in class.  This drawing to calm strategy has lately become a more valued anti-stress, meditative, and even spiritual practice.  This is also evidenced in a number of popular articles and coloring books.

Coloring Mandalas

Given the amount of anxiety and stress first-year college students experience in their first week of classes, they easily understood the value of sitting quietly and focusing their energies on a practice that builds their abilities in present mindfulness.  More on mandalas here.

I also ended class by assuring them if their parents or friends had any concerns about why they were coloring in college, I’d be happy to talk to them. :)


Look at Them Go – Drawing to Learn

I’m teaching a course this semester for first-year students called “Drawing to Learn.”  It’s one of about 50 courses offered by our Freshman College to help students become acclimated to college learning.  Faculty get to choose a topic they’re interested in and design a course around that interest.  My course is grounded in the idea that drawing can be a more efficient process for learning, communicating, and leading than textual or numerical languages.

Here are the supplies I handed out during the first class.


Each student received a package of 12 colored pencils, a Palomino Blackwing pencil, and a Moleskine notebook.

Over the course of the next 8 weeks, students will learn the following six drawing-to-learn strategies:

  1. Drawing to Calm – Coloring
  2. Drawing to Listen – Doodling
  3. Drawing to Record Learning – Sketchnoting
  4. Drawing to Create Learning – Handmade Thinking
  5. Drawing to See – Representing
  6. Drawing to Present Learning – Illustrated Speaking

Look at them go.

first day of class


Written Petition

Here below is the tenth poem in The Robertson Unit Poems series.  These poems reflect my correspondence with an inmate serving a life sentence at the Robertson unit in Abilene, Texas.  He contacted me in late May of this year asking if my department offered writing programs for inmates.  Here is my response in the first poem in the series.  The other poems are in reverse chronology here.

Written Petition