More collaborative drawing in the classroom.

There ‘s been a lot of talking about drawing in the classroom lately. @kalinagoenglish and @eherrod have both provided us with ideas on how to remember vocabulary by drawing here and here.  Apart from that, @harrisonmike has shared in his blog a fun activity in which students end up drawing collaborative monsters. Finally, @ddeubel gives us plenty of tips on the topic in his blog.

The activity I want to share with you today is another collaborative drawing. With my 5th grade students we read the adapted version of  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. In fact, my students didn’t read the story, I read it to them, one chapter per class. I soon realised that some of them were not engaged in the activities we did about the novel, since they found it very difficult to understand, or they had some problems expressing their ideas.

In order to try to reverse this situation, I came up with this activity. Pretty simple, but my students loved it.  I read the chapter assigned to that class in small chunks. When I stopped reading, my students had to draw what they had heard (i.e the part of the story I had read). Once they finished, they had to pass the paper to the person sitting on their right. This was repeated many times till the chapter finished. In the end, we had lots of collective comics drawn by my students. I decided to make them pass the papers round, so that those students who weren’t good at drawing wouldn’t feel embarrased, since different parts of all the  final products had been drawn by different students. Here you can see some of the comics :

I have to admit that I was not a great fan of using drawing and art in the English classroom. However, since I started using it, I have realised that it has a magical effect. Not every student is good at English, not all students are motivated and interested in our classes, and it is generally the case that precisely those students are the ones that get involved the most in drawing activities.

When I did the activity I presented here with my class, my students didn’t want to go to the break as they wanted to continue drawing. One of the girls who finds it really hard to understand the English language, came to me and asked me if we were going to do this activity again, as it was “re divertida”. That really made my day, and determined me to let art occupy a big space in my classroom.


Posted on December 16, 2010, in Lesson Plans, Reflections on Tefl/tesl and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Now you do understand why I like so much your class blog???

  2. Great activity – really strongly addressing a necessary skill, listening and in particular listening so that one might act…

    I stumbled on the power of drawing with adolescents/teens too. Really surprised me and from then on, always promoted it. Have you seen my post about Drawing and some ideas? Try the Draw my Thing link there. Your students can play at home and they’ll love it. I’m addicted.

    • David! Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful blog post. I’ve already read it and it has skipped my mind. I know that you are a big fan of drawing in the classroom and have read many things by you on the topic. However, I’ve never given it a try before. Now I’m totally in love with it.

  3. Very cool idea. I like the keeping all the kids focused and engaged part.
    I’ve added a link to this post on my site.
    Thank you,

    • Dear Sam,
      Thank you so much for passing by and for adding my post to your blog. Your blog looks great. Let’s keep on learning together.

  4. Haha, this is brilliant! I LOVE this activity, Sabrina. Very imaginative, and like David said, a great way to do a different listening activity.

    Great stuff =)

  5. A great activity, Sabrina.

    As an extension, you could and randomly redistributing the drawings to new pairs and have them either describe to each other what’s happening in the drawing or write out what was happening at that time in the story.

    Alternatively, asking students to create a new story based on the drawing would also use imagination and vocabulary from the original.

    Lastly, if there are enough drawings, pairs could have one drawing of each chunk. Reread the story and have students arrange them into a mini-booklet. Maybe adding summaries at the bottom of each page.

    Ok, before I go on and on, I’ll stop. 😉 The hallmark of an inspiring activity is when other teachers want to expand it.

    • Hi Tyson! I’m really glad you’ve found it useful.Thanks for all the follow up activities. That’s the reason why I love sharing what’s going on in my classroom, so that people can build from there and create a better and more perfect version of my activity. Love learning from all of you.

  6. Thanks for sharing Tyson. True collaboration at work here. Pecha Kucha done by Jamie, shared by Mike, seen by you and passed on to me. THANKS!

  7. Thanks for sharing this great idea! I have done something like this as a writing activity before (write part of the story and then pass along), but had not thought about using it connected with art. I often had my students draw while I was reading to keep them focused, but I think I like this idea better!

    • Thank you very much Melissa. I’m glad you’ve found it useful. I’ve had a look at your blog and found it really interesting. Keep up the good job!

  8. Hey Sabrina,

    I’ve finally been able to come by and add my two penny’s worth to the conversation. Sorry it’s taken a while.

    I really like this idea of consolidating what’s been read in-class with some mindful illustrations. This must be a whole lot more effective than simply reading in a class where understanding is a known issue,

    I was also going too add whether some kind of further summary might further comment new language to memory but i was beaten to it 🙂

    There seem to be some really good comic strip sites out there too. Perhaps the drawings could be brought to life even further, even animated or with a re-written synopsis to go with each drawing.

    Please pass on to your students that their drawings rock and we want to see more 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing and I will of course link back in my original post.

    Emma x

    • Hi Emma, Thanks for continuing expanding the activity. Yeah, technology can help a lot in making stories come alive. I will go on using drawing in my classes, but next year. Classes have ended here in Argentina, we are on holidays till March. Thanks a lot for having inspired this post with your wonderful challenge.

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