For the last little while, I’ve been playing with #BookSnaps. If you haven’t heard of a #BookSnap, don’t worry: it isn’t an app or a product that you need to learn the ins and outs of. Instead, to make a #BookSnap, you simply use Snapchat to take a picture of a quote or a page in a book. Then, using the tools available in Snapchat, you can highlight the quote, add your thoughts, pop in emojis or stickers, and download the snap. I love snapping a picture of what I’m reading and saving my reactions to what I read — but I was a little frustrated with writing just one comment per page. As I annotated my reading, I was amassing an awful lot of Booksnaps to hold on to.
Lately, I’d also discovered Sketchnotes, a visual note taking system that uses images, fonts, colors, and shapes to take note of ideas. While sketchnoting — which you can do while reading a book or listening to a talk — you focus on the big ideas involved and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. When we synthesize information and make it visual, we tend to remember the information longer. (I create sketchnotes digitally since my handwriting is illegible and I can barely draw a stick figure.)
Since I didn’t want to use #Booksnaps to simply share quotes or a short impression of my reading, I decided to find a way to take more detailed notes on my reading. My solution? I created a hybrid version of #Booksnaps and Sketchnotes in order to fit more onto a page, melding the two ideas together. I used Google Draw to do this:
Here’s how I used Google Draw to take notes on a book:
- While reading a chapter of a book, I jot down a few notes by hand and take pictures of quotes and graphs that jump out at me.
- I go back and look for the page that speaks to me the most, the one that has the most information I want to remember.
- I think of the overarching ideas that I find important — some quotes that stand out to me or information I don’t want to forget — and I try to synthesize it.
- I take pictures of certain parts of the book and add them to my #Booksnap.
- I write comments about my reading, and add stickers or emojis.
- I only allow myself to include the information that fits on one page, which forces me to summerize the ideas
- I download the drawing as a picture, crop it and save it to my professional reading blog.
Summarizing all the information forces me to really focus on the chapter I’m reading and digest it. Normally, because I read quickly, I forget much of what I read but by the time I finish this process, I’m surprised at how much I retain!
Classroom application: I see this as an effective way for students to annotate text as well. Not only will the process help them remember what they’ve read, but for studying purposes, the images are far easier to review than pages of traditional notes.