5 Ways to Create a Doodling Culture in your Classroom

(This is a cross post from a guest blogpost for Alice Keeler.)

5 Ways to create a doodling culture

Sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, has so many benefits for students. Many studies have proven that images are considerably more effective than words when it comes to memory retention, comprehension and motivation. There are psychological benefits as well, because sketchnoting has a calming effect similar to meditation and listening to soothing music. Sketchnoting also allows students to see the bigger picture in the concepts they are studying, to make connections in their learning, and to display their learning process.

Before you begin sketchnoting in class, however, it is extremely important that you set up a doodling culture so that your students understand that IT’S OKAY TO DOODLE!

This is very counterintuitive for most teachers who feel that in order for the student to truly absorb the material being taught, they have to be looking at the teacher. This is a mindset that is very difficult to get over for teachers and for students, but with consistent reminders that it’s okay, sketchnoting will soon become a natural and normal part of your daily class routine.

Here are 5 good tips to create a sketchnoting or doodling culture in your classroom:

  1. Remind your students over and over again that it’s okay to sketchnote in class as a form of note-taking, planning, processing information, and keeping engaged in class.
  2. Provide paper/pen/pencils/notebooks/digital devices for sketchnoting.
  3. Model sketchnoting yourself by doodling with the students and displaying your sketchnotes.
  4. Spend 5 minutes a day with your students to focus on building their visual vocabulary. Visit the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER resource page for 21 free video lessons.
  5. Encourage your students to share their sketchnotes. Create a space in your classroom/class website to allow students to do this. Celebrate their amazing progress as the school year goes on!

For more tips and tricks for getting started with sketchnoting in the classroom, check out my new book, “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students”.Available now!Happy sketchnoting!

XXOO Sylvia


All 21 #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons!


At the beginning of the week when the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons were coming to an end, I challenged participants to create video montages of all 21 lessons that they completed. I loved the variety of mediums they used. Check it out!

1. Jennifer Leban (@mrsleban)

Twitter video

2. Alexis Snider (alexissnider15)

Adobe Spark Video

3. Anette LeFave (@mrslefave)

Smilebox video

4. Sarah Fromhold (@sew1080)


5. Tiffany Eliot (@kindertechtiff)

Instagram video

6. Amber Grohs (@amber_grohs)

Twitter video

7. Merri Lea De Witt (@dewit_teachn)

Book Creator

8. Mandi Tolen (@mandiTolenEDU)

Twitter video

9. Kimberley Kidd (@MrsKKidd)

Twitter video (Part 1)

Twitter video (Part 2)

10. Kimberly Cantrell (@mskcantrell96)

Twitter video

11. Katie Cahill (@kcahill79)

Twitter video

12. Margaret Sisler (@techymargaret)

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(All 21 lessons on one image, made with a yoga laptop/tablet,  windows 10 and

13. Traci Stubenrauch (@tpstube)

YouTube video

14. Courtney Adams (@cadamslpms)

Apple Clips

15. James Allen (@TLJamesA)

Twitter video

16. Kristi Daws (@kristi_daws)

Twitter video

17. Abbey Thomas (@mrstechpig)

Twitter video

18. Juli Chang (@juli_sassy2ndgr)

Apple Clips

All participants received a certificate of achievement for completing all 21 lessons:


Thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge. If I didn’t see your entry, or forgot to include it above, please DM me on Twitter (or email me) and I will add yours right away! Also please contact me if you completed all 21 lessons so that I can send you a certificate.

And the winner of the draw to win a copy of “How to Sketchnote” is….

A very special shout out to Lisa Stevens, from the U.K., who wrote a blogpost  and was a very enthusiastic #SKETCHNOTEFEVER participant, having completed all 21 lessons as well!

A reminder to all readers that even though the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER campaign is officially over, I do hope that everyone will continue to post their sketchnotes using the hashtag so that we can celebrate everyone’s creations.

Happy sketchnoting!




As the 3 week launch campaign of “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students” draws to a close, I am still incredulous at the level of participation of teachers, students, and families from all around the world!

People were tweeting and posting on Instagram and Facebook every day. Here are just a few examples:

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Congratulations to three #SKETCHNOTEFEVER participants who won a copy of my book after a random draw:

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Week 1: Ashley Sonkin

Week 2: Merri Lea DeWit

Week 3: Manuel Herrera

We have ONE MORE DRAW: Create a video or montage of ALL 21 #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons that you completed for another chance to win a copy of my book! The winner of this bonus draw will be picked on Friday, Nov. 16, so make sure to submit your videos/montages before then on social media with the hashtag #SKETCHNOTEFEVER!


After what seems like an excruciatingly long wait,  my book will finally be released tomorrow (Nov. 13) and it is my sincerest hope that the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER community will continue to post their #sketchnoting journey, with or without the  #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons! To continue the learning, please consider purchasing my book which has tons of lesson ideas and scaffolded activities to introduce sketchnoting, as well as access to a members-only databank of close to 300 sketchnoting icons.

If you haven’t ordered the book yet, it’s not too late to take advantage of the early order bonuses which will still be available until Nov. 20:


  1. Order the book before or on November 13 and you will receive 3 bonus posters plus a special VIP invitation to a live 1 hour webinar with me.
  2. Buy the book November 13 – 20 and you will receive the 3 bonus posters.
  3. Buy 20 or more copies and you will receive the three bonus posters above, PLUS a private 30 minute webinar with me.

Once you have purchased the book, please email me at sduckworth100@gmail.com to provide your proof of purchase and to receive the bonus features.

Happy sketchnoting!


Oh my, what a week it has been!

On October 23 the book campaign for “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students” (release date Nov. 13, 2018) was officially launched.

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After consulting with EdTechTeam Press author and lead editor Holly Clark and author and marketing guru Trevor Mackenzie, we brainstormed on a 3 week campaign to get people excited about sketchnoting and #SKETCHNOTEFEVER was born!  (To the uninitiated,  sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, is an effective and fun way to take notes using doodles and text.)

Every day for the past week I have been posting quick 3 minute lessons on my website and asking participants to post their drawings on social media using the hashtag #SKETCHNOTEFEVER. The response has been phenomenal with more than 2000 tweets and many more on Instagram and Facebook. Teachers told me that #SKETCHNOTEFEVER hit hard in their classrooms and even at home with their own children!

Photo courtesy @itsmrsking


Photo courtesy @caroreinck from Singapore

Photo courtesy @wheeler_laura

Photo courtesy @mrsstack205

Photo courtesy @virtualgiff

This week I also threw a “Book Reveal” party for some of my Toronto area teacher friends where we opened the first box of my new book. It was the first time any of us (including me) had seen the book and we were all thrilled to see the final product!  Thank you so much to friends Jason Trinh, Larissa Aradj, Kim Pollishuke, Jen Giffen, Laura Collins, Diana Mancuso, Shaki Ravindran, Julie Millan, Stephanie Signer and James Trood (not pictured) for coming to my place to celebrate this moment and for documenting the event with photos, videos and social media posts.

Photo courtesy Larissa Aradj

To celebrate the end of the first week of #SKETCHNOTEFEVER I drew a name from a list of more than 200 people who contributed photos of their drawings and Ashley Sonkin from Texas was the lucky winner to receive a copy of my book. Congratulations, Ashley!

I can’t wait to see what the next week will bring. If you haven’t done so already, please join in the fun by adding your name to the mailing list to receive the daily sketchnote lessons in your email box. To get caught up with all of the lessons, please visit bit.ly/sketchnotefever. It’s never too late to join!



PS. To pre- order “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students, please click here. Special purchase bonuses are available until Nov. 13. Please visit bit.ly/SylBook2 for more info.

ApplianceRepairman.ca scam: How to get your money back

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Dear Reader,

I sincerely hope that you’re not here because you have fallen victim to ApplianceRepairman.ca. But if you are, there is hope. I was able to get most of my money back within a week by following the steps as outlined below.

If you have not heard of this company before, let me fill you in. They operate in the GTA (Toronto), Hamilton, Barrie and Oshawa. They have another website, Appliance-Repair-man.ca that operates in Guelph, Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. They are based in Concord, Ontario (89 Connie Crescent, L4K 1L3) and owned and/or operated by Dan Vidoser and/or Chen Kochavi.

This is how they operate:

  1. They charge $80 to send a technician.
  2. The technician will look for a minute at your broken appliance and then state that in order for him to get a proper diagnosis of the problem, he will have to open up the machine and that this is considered labour so you will be charged extra for it.
  3. He will draw up a contract/waiver for you to sign outlining the “labour” charges and the cost for each. This is what mine was, for a broken washing machine:
  • Watering system: $112
  • Mainboard/Timer: $98
  • Safety system: $70
  • Total: $280 (Bizarrely, this is the total that is calculated with every complaint I have read about, no matter what the appliance)

4. He will tell you that he will deduct the $80 initial fee if you give him the go ahead to service the machine. You do the mental math and think “$280 – 80 = $200. Worth it to get my machine working again”. You sign the waiver.

5. He spends about 10 minutes doing something with the machine (Not sure what. Mental note: always watch what your repairman does) then comes out of the laundry room and states that you need to buy a replacement part at an exorbitant cost (ex. $408.88 for a latch and lock assembly which is $97.33 online). Oh, there will be labour fees on top of that.

6. When you balk, he claims that he warned you beforehand about additional costs and you shouldn’t have signed the waiver if you weren’t willing to spend more money to get it fixed. And that collections services will come after you if you don’t pay what you owe right now ($280).

7. At this point, you will pause and wonder “Is this guy a scammer? But he seems nice! Well, it’s a lot of money, but I guess this is how most companies operate (NOTE: It’s not). Plus, I did sign the waiver so I’ll do what decent people do and honour the contract”. You give him your credit card (P.S. big mistake) and he rings it through. If you’re really unlucky, he will have convinced you to order the “needed” part, too. (Thankfully, I didn’t, but retrospectively, I should have told him to take a hike and sent him away with no payment whatsoever.)

8. He leaves. You are $316.40 dollars poorer and your machine still doesn’t work. You go online and your stomach sinks when you start to read the abysmal reviews and articles written about this company:

As of today:

  1. Homestars: 502 negative reviews, .6/10 rating (that’s less than 1/10 btw)
  2. Better Business Bureau: “F” rating
  3. Ellen Roseman/Toronto Star article
  4. TrustPilot reviews: 28 reviews, 100% bad
  5. ApplianceRepairGuys.org: 35 bad reviews (Same company, different name)
  6. SiteJabber: 10 reviews, all bad
  7. Google reviews: 102 bad reviews (google “ApplianceRepairman.ca reviews”, scroll down to the right, click “View all Google Reviews”

OMG, you think. I got hosed. Big time. How do I get my money back? You call your bank right away. They tell you there’s nothing they can do. You call the company and they tell you the technician honoured the contract you signed, so, sorry. They might offer you a $35 refund if you call more than once.

I decided to follow the advice found on ApplianceRepairGuys.org, a website set up by another victim of this company. He suggested filing a consumer complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario. Wisely, the crooks at ApplianceRepairman.ca will respond once you set the ball in motion here because they do not want to be shut down.

Before filing a complaint you must write a letter to the company. Email the letter to info@appliancerepairman.ca and in the subject line write: Complaint about service done: CONSUMER PROTECTION ONTARIO (this will get their attention). Note that you don’t actually have to file a complaint just yet. Write the letter first and send it off, then wait to see if the company responds. 

In your letter to the company, make sure you describe your intention to file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario and outline how much money you want back from them. Also give them a time limit to respond (I gave them 48 hrs but they responded the next day). Click here to read my letter.

The company will state that you must sign a waiver to get your money back which is basically a gag order for legal proceedings (which I will completely ignore if ever asked to testify against them). You can try to insist that you won’t sign it until you get your money back but you won’t be successful. They will tell you that they you will receive a cheque within 15 business days once the waiver is signed but insist that the money be put back on your credit card (not a cheque) instead and tell them they have 24 hrs to reimburse you or you will proceed with your Consumer Protection Ontario complaint. Here is where you need to take a huge leap of faith: You need to give them your credit card number again before they can process the refund. If you prefer, ask them for a mailed cheque, but you risk having to chase them down for it. I gave them my credit card number and received the refund immediately after sending them the signed waiver. I called my bank right away and made sure that the funds had indeed been credited back to my card. Phew, nightmare over.

So there it is. It was 5 days of pure hell, but a lesson well learned. Never again will I let a service person into my house until I do some research on them.

Here are some questions I have left to ponder:

  1. How do the employees at this moralless company sleep at night?
  2. Why does VISA allow this fraudulent company to have a merchant account?
  3. How has this company been allowed to operate for 5 years now?
  4. How many thousands of customers have they ripped off?
  5. Why are victims powerless to shut them down?
  6. Why isn’t Consumer Protection Ontario stepping in to protect Ontario consumers from this company, as they are mandated to do?

I welcome your comments below. Good luck with your efforts to get your money back if you are a victim. Please let me know how it turns out.

PSS: I filed a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario even though I got my money back and I encourage all victims to do the same. This way the government might finally pay attention to this scam.

I also filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada. This organization will not help you get your money back but they will help investigate fraudulent companies. Click here to file a complaint.


Sketchnoting Cross-Canada Tour

Dear readers,

If you know me, you know how passionate I am about sketchnoting, which is a way to take visual notes.

There are so many benefits to sketchnoting as a creativity tool and as a way to document your learning and observations. Teachers who have started sketchnoting with students report that the practice has transformed their classrooms, as students become more engaged in the process of note-taking, gathering and processing information

I am super excited for the opportunity to share my passion with people across Canada, starting this Monday in Magog, Quebec (just outside of Montreal). I hope that you can join me on one of the stops! Please click here to learn more and to register.




My trip to New Zealand

Recently I had the good fortune to travel to New Zealand to deliver a keynote and some sketchnoting workshops. I jumped at this opportunity because my youngest daughter, Lauren, lives in Auckland and we were long overdue for a visit. My husband, Steve, also decided to come with me and we met our good Toronto friends Jeff and Doris Plunkett for a few days who were also travelling there. I had been to New Zealand once before, but never had the time to explore it properly. This time, we had 10 days in Kiwiland, and I turned to my daughter for advice since she had already toured NZ in her van. She said that we should focus on the South Island because that’s where all the great hikes are. So we did, and boy, was she right!


Reunion with Lauren in Queenstown

3. Queenstown


4. Queenstown Airbnb

Queenstown Airbnb

Day 1: We landed in Queenstown and immediately we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the green, rolling hills covered with sheep that we could see from the plane. Everywhere you looked, it seemed like a picture postcard. We were there in our spring which was their fall, so we were able to enjoy the spectacular fall colours. We picked up our car rental then drove to our Airbnb which had a stunning view of the harbour and was a five-minute walk into town. Queenstown is adorable, with many shops, bars and restaurants and a nice, flat hike around the harbour. We had tapas and cocktails at a cozy bar called Eichardt’s Bar which is attached to the luxurious Eichardts Hotel. A great spot for breakfast is the Bathhouse Cafe, right on the water.

Bathhouse cafe

Day 2: We hiked around Lake Hayes which is a short drive from Queenstown and is an easy, flat hike around a lake as still as a mirror.


After the hike we visited Arrowtown, a quaint village with shops and restaurants and with trees that seemed at the peak of fall colours. We had a delicious meal at SlowCuts Restaurant.



Day 3: A stunning ½ hour drive along ice-blue Lake Wakatipu took to us to Glenorchy where we did an easy hike with a gorgeous view of the lake. At the top we found an abandoned mine with old tracks that seemed to drop at the edge of a cliff.



Day 4: We left Queenstown and had breakfast in Wanaka Town, another beautiful small town on Lake Wanaka. We picked up some groceries, then headed to Roy’s Peak for the hike of a lifetime. It took us 2hrs45 to climb up and another 2 hours to climb down. The uphill climb was relentless, and if it wasn’t for Lauren cheering me on, I don’t think I would have made it. But boy, was it worth the view!


Later that day we arrived at our next Airbnb in Twizel, a tiny town 22 km from our Airbnb. It was one of the most enchanting Airbnb’s I have ever stayed at, in the middle of an 11,000 acre sheep and cattle farm, on the edge of a lake with Aoraki Mount Cook in the background.



Steve cooked us a delicious lamb dinner while Lauren and I went for a walk down to the lake. With a wood stove keeping us warm inside the house, we pulled out our books after dinner and decided that we could be happy staying here for a long time, but alas, we could only stay for one night. Early the next morning our hostess showed up with freshly laid eggs, bread and milk and we had a yummy breakfast.


Our Airbnb hostess, Sonja.

Day 5: We drove up to Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand.


Lake Tekapo, en route to Christchurch (Yes, the water really is this blue!)

The hike at Mount Cook was nice and easy, a flat walk up to the base of the mountain and back, with a view of some tiny icebergs which had broken from the glacier above.


Mount Cook
Later that evening we arrived in Christchurch and I had a chance to finally meet Arnika MacPhail who is the vivacious organizer of the Cyclone Energise Conference.



With Arnika MacPhail, Rob Smith, Louka Parry, Jordan Priestley, and Gerry MacManus who drove me to the airport in his super-cool Austin mini! (Read his blogpost about the conference here.)

Day 6: At the end of the conference today Emma Scott, who attended my sketchnote sessions, surprised me with a wonderful sketchnote of my keynote: “Why Creativity Matters”. Yes, this is her first sketchnote. I know, c-r-a-z-y good! She blogged about the conference here: Day 1 and Day 2. Another teacher I was looking forward to meeting was Rachel Chisnall, having “met” her on Twitter previously. You can read her blogpost about the conference here (scroll down to read about my keynote).

25.Why creativity matters sketchnote

Sketchnote by Emma Scott

I met so many wonderful, energetic teachers at this conference, who were keen to learn about new methods to engage their students and were so much fun! We danced, made paper airplanes and drew cartoons during my keynote. A huge thank you to Cyclone for inviting me!

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This is my “Mihi”: The Maori way to introduce oneself. Many thanks to Arnika and Sylvia Fidow for helping me with the pronunciation! Click here for a translation.

Day 7: We flew from Christchurch to Blenhelm in a tiny 9 seater plane. Unfortunately, it was nighttime, so we were not able to see much during the short flight.


We met a tour guide/driver, Joe Kelly, at the Blenhelm airport who drove us 30 minutes to Picton and we arranged for him to take us for a wine tour the following day. When we woke up in our Airbnb  the following morning, we gasped at the beautiful view of Picton harbour and the mountains beyond.


Day 8: Unfortunately, the rained the entire time we were in Picton, but it was fine for the wine tour. We visited 3 vineyards and stopped for a snack at the last one. It was wonderful having Joe as our tour-guide giving us a personal view of the area since he has lived in Marlborough his entire life.



Day 9: We took a 2 ½ hour ferry from Picton to Wellington but sadly, the skies were gray and rainy so we were not able to see much. Our Airbnb in Wellington was beautiful, but a little out of town so we Ubered back and forth to get a taste of Wellington city life. It looked lovely but we couldn’t really see much because of the rainy weather. We did discover a great cocktail bar called “The Library” with live music, and we had an amazing meal at Mr. Go’s. Also, an amazing breakfast place near the Airbnb called “Scorch-o-rama” right on the water’s edge.


Wellington Airbnb


The Library cocktail bar in Wellington

Day 10: We flew from Wellington to Auckland for our final destination. We stayed at the Grand Mercure Hotel, a boutique hotel right in Auckland Harbour. We wandered around the harbour and had oysters and drinks at Dr. Rudi’s Rooftop Bar overlooking the harbour.


Lauren then took us to two of her favourite neighbourhoods: K’Road and Ponsonby. Later in the evening we discovered a really cool whisky bar called “The Jefferson”, and then we had one of the best meals of the trip at an Italian restaurant calledAmano near our hotel.


“The Jefferson Bar”, Auckland

Day 11: On our last day in Auckland I delivered a day long sketchnoting workshop for administrators and staff at Te Whānau o Waipareira, a government sponsored agency for the Maori community. I was moved to tears at the end when a Moari elder blessed a jade necklace and placed it around my neck.


Papa Rangi greeting me the Maori way: nose-to-nose, “Sharing the breath of life”.

Everyone in the in the room said a Maori prayer in unison and then sang a Maori song. I wish I could understand what they were saying, but their warmth, hospitality and national pride shone through the music and lyrics. Thanks you so much to Jo Nicholson for inviting me and to the entire Te Whanou o Waipareira community for making me feel so welcome. What a wonderful way to cap off my whirlwind trip through New Zealand and to solidify my commitment to come back to this beautiful country for a prolonged visit.


The staff at Te Whānau o Waipareira

Yes, dear readers, New Zealand is as beautiful as all of the pictures you have ever seen. In fact, it is even more beautiful than you can imagine. Our daughter Lauren might never leave and I don’t blame her. Its unspoiled, pristine beauty, majestic mountains, epic hikes, friendly people and tremendous respect for the Maori culture makes it a must-see destination for everyone. Put it on your bucket list! Click here for a list of useful Maori words and expressions. Click here for a complete photo album of our trip.