I like to give my college education majors options for how they reflect. Such is the case of the Index Card Journal assignment--which can be turned in as structured reflection or sketchnote.The post also provides models and rubrics.​ Also, feel free to copy and modify the handout for your own purposes.


Here's how I am setting up my responses to the journals this semester. Students will turn in their 4" x 6" index cards (affiliate link: $.89 for 100) at the beginning of class and then start on 10 minute Socrative quiz. While they complete the low stakes quiz, I'll sort the notecards into gradebook order, pencil in a quick response to all of them, and enter marks into the gradebook. By the time students are done with the quiz, I'll be done grading the notecards. 

Here are the advantages of this notecard reflection system:

  1. I'll have responses to the readings off my plate quickly.
  2. Students appreciate fast feedback.
  3. I can save a few cards out of the batch to place on the doc-cam. Those questions will help me start the subsequent discussion.
  4. The notecards and Socrative quiz will, together, show me which misconceptions students have about the readings. And I can address those immediately.

This semester, I'm also giving students the option of turning in a structured response or a sketchnote on their notecard. The benefits of choice include intrinsically motivating students to learn. When individuals feel more control over their learning, they are more likely to invest themselves. Also, providing choice is a way to play to students' strengths.

Option #1 Written Reflection - 3 Points Possible

Here is a model of the structured reflection.

And here is the rubric for the structured written reflection:

Option #2 Sketchnote - 3 Points Possible

“Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines” - Mike Rohde, The Sketchnote Handbook

Here is a sample sketchnote. . . 

Sketchnote Basics

1. Pick a title and make it interesting with BIG and HEAVY typography.

2. Choose a basic overall structure to organize your sketchnote.

3. Use a variety of sketchnote elements, like these:

4. Use different styles of text FOR EMPHASIS.

5. Makes connections between ideas using connectors (arrows, dotted lines, or heavy lines).

6. Use containers and dividers to structure ideas and clearly communicate your understanding

Benefits of Sketchnoting

​Sketchnoting “helps students develop more robust knowledge organizations.” - Derek Bruff

“...discussing their drawings with their students provides teachers with windows into students’ thinking as well being a way that the peers can share knowledge, discovery and understanding.” -Ainsworth, Prain and Tyler (2011) (Hat tip to Vicki Davis)

Affiliate: I recommend the following sketchnoting resources: Sketchnote for Educators (2016) by Sylvia Duckworth, The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde, and The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently Paperback  (2015) by Sunni Brown. 

Todd Finley

Edutopia Blogger and Asst. Editor || ECU Ed Professor || Founder of Todd's Brain at www.todd-finley.com || Books: Dinkytown Braves and Rethinking Classroom Design.

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