When ArtPlantae participates in educational events, garden shows and other venues, I bring a traveling Guest Sketchbook with me and a sign that reads, “Please doodle in the Guest Sketchbook. Chicken scratch preferred. Words not necessary. Select any page. Thank you.”
All day long I invite people to doodle. Adults are the first to shake their heads no and to walk away. The usual response is “No. I can’t draw and I don’t doodle.” One man said, “Oh no. Not without a straightedge!”
The response I receive from children is very different. They are all over the sketchbook. Some return to draw again. Others lose track of time and space and draw for a long time. While most children respond in a positive way to my invitation, there have been some who have politely declined.
At an outdoor event where everyone is out enjoying a sunny day, having my invitation turned down is no big deal.
But what if you were using drawing as a learning tool for specific reasons and had a room full of students who groaned at the thought of having to draw for an assignment? What do you do then?
In Drawing Out the Artist in Science Students, science teacher Al Camacho, mechanical engineering professor Gary Benenson and Patricia Rosas-Colin, a graduate student in mathematics education have an answer to this dilemma. Their answer is quite simply, teach these students how to draw.
Not in an assertive “Draw or else!” sort of way, of course. But in a way that encourages them to become visual thinkers.
In their paper, the authors present five exercises designed to make students thoughtful and inquiring observers. Here I provide only a one-line description of each exercise. For all the juicy details, please see their paper.
In Camacho et al. (2012), you’ll find exercises about:
- Sci-a-grams: What are they and how they can be used to demonstrate the value of simple sketches.
- Basic Shapes – How to see shapes in everyday objects
- Creating with Basic Shapes – How to create representational images
- Information Through Labels – An exercise in communicating information
- Diagram Design – An exercise in explaining how things work
You will also find in this paper a scoring rubric teachers can use to evaluate student drawings and assess student understanding.
The exercises presented in this paper do more than help students use drawing as a learning tool. They train students how to communicate information visually and equip students with a new way of thinking and expressing ideas (Camacho et al., 2012).
To obtain a copy of Camacho et al. (2012), you can buy this article online from the National Science Teachers Association (99¢).
Camacho, Al and Gary Benenson, Carmen Patricia Rosas-Colin. 2012. Drawing out the artist in science students. Science and Children. 50(3): 68-73.