Interview with Sylvia Duckworth
Sylvia Duckworth is an award-winning teacher from Toronto with more than 30 years teaching experience in the public and private systems. She uses technology to motivate and engage her students and is particularly drawn to ways that it can be used for collaboration and creativity in the classroom. She is a Google Certified Innovator and an avid sketchnoter. You can find her Edusketches on her Flickr site.
I have seen your sketchnotes shared on social media a lot. How do you explain the popularity of sketchnoting?
I think that most people are visual learners and when a blogpost or concept is illustrated in simple, iconic sketchnotes, it is much easier (and faster) to process the information. I also try to use a lot of bright colours which adds to the visual appeal. Finally, I try to illustrate some of the important issues in education that teachers are facing today and often these ideas seem to really resonate with teachers.
How can teachers use sketchnoting in their planning and in the class?
Sketchnoting is a great way to mind-map or plan a lesson or idea. Sometimes I do a rough sketchnote just to help me visualize the proper way to approach a problem. It seems to bring clarity to the issue at hand.
I am a terrible artist but I would love to sketchnote, where should I start?
I always believed I was a terrible artist, too, and I stopped drawing when I was a child. I took up sketchnoting about 18 months ago and I quickly realized that I love to draw. Try to access your inner child and rediscover your love of drawing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because there is no wrong or right way to sketchnote. Just give it a try! Click here for my Sketchnoting tutorial.
You are also known for being passionate about Edtech and have Google certification. How has this helped you in your teaching and would you recommend it?
My invitation to the Google Certified Innovator Academy in 2012 opened a whole new Google world to me. I spent two days at the Google Headquarters in California with some of the most creative teachers and coaches I have ever met. I had been using Google Apps for Education previously, but I had no idea that I was just barely scratching the surface of what Google apps can do to simplify teachers’ lives and to maximize student collaboration. What I am most excited about is the creative aspect of Google apps: on Chromebooks my students can create professional-looking videos, animations, posters, cartoons, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, video cards, raps, photo albums, flipbooks, greeting cards, and more. I highly recommend the Google Teachers Academy. Keep your eyes open for the next round of applications. They usually take place two times a year. You can also acquire Level 1 or 2 Google certification online. Check out the training center here. Finally, to learn more about Google Apps for Education, consider attending an EdTechTeam GAFEsummit which are held several times a year in different locations around the world. I am a frequent presenter at these conferences and the PD offered is second to none.
I read that you do workshops on the importance of creativity in our professional and personal lives. Why are you so passionate about creativity and what benefits does it hold for teachers of adults for instance?
I believe that creativity is an essential element of mental health and well-being. People involved in actively creating things (either digitally or analog) are usually super focussed, motivated, and energized by the activity. They enter their “Happy Zone”, alleviating stress and anxiety, and a feeling of pride often accompanies the completion of a project. Creativity also encourages risk-taking and is a precursor to innovation. This sketchnote best illustrates the benefits of creativity.