Category Archives: Visual Thinking

Drawing is Learning Comic Article Published in JAEPL

I’m happy to report that a 12 page comic article co-authored by my daughter Myra Musgrove and me has just appeared in Volume 20, Winter 2014-2015, the 20th Anniversary Issue of The Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning.

JAEPL Cover Winter 2014-2015

I would like to thank Joonna Trapp and Brad Peters, co-editors of JAEPL, for inviting me to submit an article for this anniversary issue on the topic of visual thinking, and especially for allowing Myra and me to create and present the article in a comic format.

Page 1 Drawing is LearningI’d also like to thank my daughter Myra for drawing such a beautifully drawn comic article.  This is our first published article together, and I look forward to many more collaborations.

Drawing is Learning - Top of Page

You’ll see “Musgrove & Musgrove / Drawing is Learning” at the top margin of the right side facing pages.  I can’t tell you how wonderful that makes me feel.

Drawing is Learning Internal Pages

I’d also like to thank Scott McCloud for inspiring me to teach comics and offering all of us new ways to conceptualize and compose non-fiction visually.

Drawing is Learning Notes and Resources Page

I’d also like to thank Sunni Brown, Mike Rohde, Dan Roam, and Brandy Agerbeck who have helped me understand the power of visual thinking, teaching, and learning.

Notes Detail Drawing is Learning

The Notes pages is one of my favorite pages.  Rather than using numbers to signal footnotes, we used actual notes.

Drawing is Learning Bio PageAnd the final page shows the proud father with his awesome daughter.

The electronic version is here.

 

Illustrated Grammar Handbooks: The Sequel

Two years ago, in an advanced English grammar course, students created original and illustrated grammar handbooks on a theme of their choosing.  Here are examples from that class.

This Spring 2015 semester, I had the opportunity to teach this course again, and 22 students in this class had the same assignment.  Here below are the students in the class along with photos of the covers of their handbooks.  They selected a wide range of themes from which to draw their examples in order to show grammatical elements at work.

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P1010465 P1010464 P1010463 P1010462 P1010461 P1010460 P1010459 P1010457 P1010456 P1010455 P1010454 P1010453 P1010452 P1010451 P1010450 P1010449
P1010447 P1010446 P1010445 P1010444 P1010443

 

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Visualizing Sentences


This semester, my English Grammar students have been reading, among other texts, Florey’s Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, a nice cultural history/memoir of sentence diagramming.

Books for 2015 Spring

Yesterday, I asked them to get in groups of three, to invent their own visual representation of sentence diagramming, and to apply that system to three sentence types:  a simple sentence with an introductory phrase, a compound sentence, and a complex sentence.  I also asked them to include a legend that would explain their diagramming system.   Here below are some photos of students at work, as well as a few very creative systems.  They pulled this off in only about 45 minutes.

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IMG_3366IMG_3374IMG_3378IMG_3373IMG_3379IMG_3375IMG_3376

 

 

 


Drawing on Index Cards

I am just finishing up teaching an eight-week, one-hour course I developed for our Freshman Seminar Program here at Angelo State.  In this course, called “Drawing to Learn,” I introduce students to drawing as a tool for concentration and learning, including coloring mandalas, doodling, creating handmade responses to reading assignments, or sketchnoting.

Here are the 21 formats I teach for handmade thinking

My students and I have been using drawing as a learning tool in all of my classes for some time now, but this is the first course where I’ve focused the entire class on the topic of drawing to learn.  The main ideas for this course are rooted in the work of Ed EmberleyDan Roam, Sunni Brown, Dave Gray, Scott McCloud, Lynda Barry, Austin Kleon, and Mike Rohde.

When I began designing the course, I ordered Lynda Barry’s new book Syllabus to gain some insight into how I might incorporate more drawing into this class.  Here on the bottom left of page 58 is the idea that seemed most immediately useful to me.  Lynda writes:  “We begin each class by writing our name, the date, and drawing a two-minute self-portrait on an index card.  The cards will serve as a record of your attendance.”

Lynda Barry Index Cards Attendance

Actually, this idea was at least doubly useful.  It was not only a way for students to record attendance (a chore I hate), but also a way for them to create a sense of presence at the beginning of each class through drawing.  Here are some samples of those index cards from my class, bundled by student.  The front sides with names and dates:

Index Card Student Name and Date

(By the way, another use for these cards:  if I’m going to put students in groups for team activities, I can put symbols on the top right corner of the index cards before passing them out to the class.  Then I can ask them to form small groups based on the symbol randomly assigned to them.)

Here are samples of the back of the cards with hand drawn images.  I started having students draw self-portraits as Barry suggested, but later began suggesting other topics for drawing; the prompt for this day was “Draw a tool you use regularly.”

Index Card Student Drawings

In addition, before each class I sketch out each of my lesson plans on index cards.  Then I redraw this plan on the whiteboard while students are completing their attendance cards.  Here are some of my lesson plans for this class, including icons I normally use to signify particular activities or mini-lectures.  (More on visual lesson plans here and here.)

Index Card Class Agenda

And here below are some index cards I sketched to help me remember what to draw on the board as I was teaching my students the basic vocabulary of sketchnoting.

Index Card Notes for Sketchnoting

(For more on sketchnoting, see Mike Rohde’s The Sketchnote Handbook.  Here’s one example of a sketchnote from the class.  It’s a response to this video lecture by Hank Green on 8/5 X 11 paper.)

Sketchnote on Human Population Growth

And here are a couple more drawings on the attendance index cards.  The first one is a response to the prompt, “Draw your secret superhero identity.”  The second is a response to the prompt, “What is your major?”

Attendance card sample 1

Attendance card sample 2

The point of these attendance cards again is to record attendance and to give students a chance to create a sense of physical, mental, and emotional presence at the beginning of class so they can better attend to the work ahead.  But they also give students practice in drawing quickly, simply, and without judgment, practice that helps them gain confidence in their drawing abilities.

index card

In the age of iPads and smartphones, I’ve found another simply designed, lightweight, inexpensive, and remarkably thin handheld device that can do so much good work for me and my students in the classroom.

 

Drawing the Learning Organization

Dear Dave,

My wife, Marie-Clare, and I decided to read The Connected Company together and have our own little discussion group.  She’s a training and communication specialist in human resources.  I’m an academic department chair.   This morning, we were talking about the first couple of chapters, and I began to sketch out my understanding of what a connected organization might look like.

Here’s the first sketch I made as we were talking.

Learning Notecard First

And the second one just after we finished our discussion.


Second Sketch

Because we work for a university, I was trying to think of what a “connected learning” organization might look like.  I realize that’s probably redundant.

Learning Organization xy

So yeah, I began with multi-variable chart.

Learning Organization xy  with flexible

And I was thinking of the vertical axis representing the degree to which a company can be flexible in understanding and responding to the needs of its customers (and employees or students).  I thought originally this would be called something like “responsiveness,” but Marie-Clare rightly identified it as the organizational structure or company hierarchy.

Learning Organization 3

And then I was thinking about the degree to which it might be too rigid in its organizational structure or bureaucracy to understand or respond effectively.

On the horizontal axis, I was thinking of the available resources a company employs, such as its people, materials, equipment, and financial assets.

Learning Organization 4

In the worst of situations, we experience the inability to hire and replace personnel or we don’t have access to the resources we need to manufacture or serve our customers effectively, or even to invest in new projects.

Learning Organization 5

At the other end of the resources spectrum, we are fluid, not only in the sense that we have the resources we need, but that we can easily access the resources we need for the customers we want or as customer needs change.

Learning Organization 6

Then I began to think about the quadrants on this chart and what might be located within those relationships.

Learning Organization 7

I was thinking about the emotional effects on employees when working in a company with the lack of resources it needs and an organizational structure unable to serve itself and its customers.

Learning Organization 8

On the opposite end of that emotional spectrum would be the feelings we might have when working for a responsive organization with the resources to fulfill its vision, mission, and strategic goals.

But what about those other two quadrants?

Learning Organization 9

I would think it would have to be quite frustrating if an organization has a flexible structure but no resources to fulfill its objectives.  But if the organization is working to gain the resources necessary, leadership would have the opportunity to point to the courage necessary to follow the company’s strategy, to speak hopefully about the potential for new engagement with customers, and the new opportunities and freedoms that would come with success.

Learning Organization

In the final quadrant is a reminder that even though resources may be plentiful, a rigid organizational structure can result in stagnation via unresponsiveness to customer needs, as well as the resulting decline in revenue, leading eventually perhaps to further oppressive rigidity, fear, despair, and isolation from its customers.

I’m guessing, Dave, you’ve probably thought of all of this before, or perhaps you’ll be talking more about these ideas and the emotional terrain in chapters to come.  But I just wanted to share how your book has prompted our thinking so far here in West Texas about the responsiveness of learning organizations.  (In addition, because any family or relationship might be considered a learning organization, it’s possible this visual might also be applied to those as well.  Marriage, for example.)

Onward in kindness,

Laurence

 

 

Illustrating My Song

After reading at the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers conference last week in Dallas, I had several nice comments from folks on a poem I read “My Song.”

My Song another version

Last night, I talked to my daughter Myra about illustrating it and turning it into a picture book or poster or both.   Here’s a draft sketch I drew this morning of a comic version (with the poem divided by line or phrase) for what might be a color 11X17 poster with images drawn by Myra.  Can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

My Song Design Draft

 

My New Drawing Table

I have for some time been wanting a drawing table in my office here at school.  However, my office is already pretty crowded with furniture: my desk, a conference table, bookshelves, and a storage cabinet. I was even thinking about getting a portable drawing stand could put on top of my conference table.

Then last week, in preparation for classes, I was cleaning out a closet in one of our classrooms, and found this old abandoned dictionary table.

Book Table Before

“That,” I said to myself, “has some potential.”  So I took it home, glued and hammered some new trim on the front, and painted it black to coordinate with my other furniture.  I now have a little drawing table that I can roll anywhere, and it’s just the right size for drawing my Tex cartoons.

Drawing Table After

Huzzah!

A Comic Article Submission

Back in June I mentioned I was drafting an article in comic format for a journal.

And the 10 page draft looked like this:

First Draft of Comic for JAEPL #20And after struggling with the drawing of the comic for awhile, I decided it made more sense to contact my daughter Myra, an artist/illustrator living in Brooklyn, to see if she would like to be my co-author and translate my ideas into comic format.   Well, this last weekend, we finished a 12 page comic (show below) titled “Drawing is Learning: To Understand and To Be Understood,” and I sent it in to the editors of JAEPL this morning.

Drawing is Learning on TableAnd here below are a couple of pages in more detail: page 2 and the notes/resources page for which I decided to use notes rather numbers for the notes.

DisL2

DisL11 (1)

 

Now we wait!

Final Comic Expo in Reading Graphic Novels

About two weeks ago, I described my summer Reading Graphic Novels course and my students’ remarkable midterm comics.

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Today, they submitted their final comics to share with the class.  And WOW!

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We also had donuts.

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For this assignment, I asked my students to compose a comic of at least 2 pages and 12 panels and 3 colors that communicates a thematically or emotionally unified personal narrative.

Final Comic 4381 Summer 2014_005

There were also to include annotations on the comic vocabulary they used while drawing their comics.

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The annotations would appear on a separate page, typed or handwritten, that detail the comic vocabulary used in panels selected for annotation.

P1010379

They were to refer to the comic vocabulary used by panel number and page number.  For example, the comic vocabulary of a motion lines used in panel 1 on page 1 would be signified as follows:  P1P1: motion lines.

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They were required to include at least 10 annotations from the following list, and none could be repeated. 

  • Bordered panel
  • Panel border
  • Panel with no border
  • Gutter
  • Motion lines
  • Emanata
  • Inset panel
  • Panel within panel
  • Narrative box
  • Speech bubble
  • Thought balloon
  • Close up
  • Medium shot
  • Long shot
  • Polyptych
  • Image echo
  • Transition – moment to moment *
  • Transition—action to action *
  • Transition—subject to subject *
  • Transition—scene to scene *
  • Transition—aspect to aspect *
  • Transition—non sequitor *

* Each transition annotation should explain how the transition works between the panels.

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Here below is a slideshow of photos of today’s class along with closer views of the amazing comics they created.  Choose fullscreen and pause for closer inspection of comics.  You can also access the slideshow here.