A Visual Agenda

During this first summer session, I taught a special topics course I’ve been wanting to teach for some time.  I titled it “Visual Thinking, Narration, and Explanation.”  In the next couple of days in later posts, I’ll share some of the outstanding work created by students in the course, but first I thought I’d show how I presented lesson plans to my students.  This is a very simple and mundane idea, but I spent some time before each class drawing up an overview of that day’s activities so that students could see the narrative arc of the class.   I generally make a numbered list to help students see what I intend for us to accomplish.  But because this course was going to focus on visual thinking and communication, I decided to rethink those daily lesson plans and attempt to create “visual agendas” that would more clearly and memorably communicate what was in store.

VTNE Day 19 Agenda

 The change in imagining these course agendas was affected by the work of the course, but particularly two of the main course texts: The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde and Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.


Most days started with practice in lettering and drawing simple icons before moving on to questions and sharing responses to the reading assignments.  And on some days, we would move into a computer lab to work on infographics or comics.  (The other two texts in the class included Infographics by Lankow, Ritchie, and Crooks, and Visual Thinking by Rudolph Arnheim.)

Here below is the progression of my 22 daily class plans from the purely linguistic day one agenda to the final class comic agenda with shapes, color, and images dominating the linguistic aspects.

VTNE Day 1 Agenda184 VTNE Day 1 Agenda VTNE Day 2 Agenda VTNE Day 3 Agenda VTNE Day 4 Agenda VTNE Day 5 Agenda VTNE Day 6 Agenda VTNE Day 7 Agenda VTNE Day 8 Agenda VTNE Day 9 Agenda VTNE Day 10 Agenda VTNE Day 11 Agenda VTNE Day 12 Agenda VTNE Day 13 Agenda VTNE Day 14 Agenda VTNE Day 15 Agenda VTNE Day 16 Agenda VTNE Day 17 Agenda VTNE Day 18 Agenda VTNE Day 19 Agenda VTNE Day 20 Agenda VTNE Day 21 Agenda

These agendas, and all student work for the course, were uploaded to a Google + Community site I created for this class, and I began each class displaying this agenda from that platform.  Then we moved on to look at what other students had uploaded from their sketchnotes, infographics, or comic projects.  I’d be happy to invite you to take a look if you send me your gmail address.