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Sketchnoters' Stories: 8th-grader Allison Huang revolutionizes her school notes with sketchnotes

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We are excited to share this story about Allison Huang, an eighth grader passionate about sketchnoting. This is her story about discovering and integrating sketchnoting as a powerful tool for the way she thinks in school and in her life.
I am most impressed by the way Allison continues to experiment and challenge her own sketchnoting practice, improving at every step. What a testament to her and the work she's doing. Go Allison!
—Mike Rohde
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Here's Allison:

I first came across sketchnoting when my mom bought The Sketchnote Handbook for me three years ago when I was in sixth grade. Previously, I had been dissatisfied with typical bulleted notes because it was very hard for me to place emphasis on the things that were the most important.

I wanted notes that I could skim quickly and still be able to pull out the main ideas. This was extremely hard with bulleted notes due to how uniform everything was. Since then, I have been sketchnoting, working to develop my style as well as overcoming certain challenges I’ve discovered in the way I work and express myself.

Starting in sixth grade, I began incorporating visuals into my notes and eventually ditching the list form, taking presentations in my science class as an opportunity to sketchnote:

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I found sketchnoting very fun because of the freedom I had and the way that I could add my own interpretations into the notes in whatever form I desired. I also love art, so it was a fun way to incorporate that side of myself into my sketchnotes by adding simple drawings and finding a set of icons I liked to use.

Seventh Grade

During seventh grade, I tried a different structure of sketchnoting, using it to study for history tests. Rather than using it as a form of note-taking, I used it as a way to gather all the different things I had learned in that unit and put them all into one place. The process of creating the sketchnote did help me retain the information I was displaying, but I found that I wanted something more cohesive to look back on:

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Eighth Grade

This year, I’ve experimented with quite a few different structures of sketchnoting. Previously, I had always sketchnoted on graph paper, but based on what I had on hand at the time, I sketchnoted on lined paper a couple times this year:

Click to view full-sized image

Click to view full-sized image

I noticed that it changed my style in that it was a lot more rigid. I followed the lines very strictly, and that was apparent in the final product.

Afterwards, I saw a friend’s sketchnotes on the same topic. It was a lot more cohesive and felt more like a whole, which I admired and wanted to emulate. She had worked on a piece of blank paper, so I decided to give that a try.

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