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Blog / How to Differentiate Doodle Notes for Students
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How to Differentiate Doodle Notes for Students

Differentiation is a crucial part of education systems around the world as it helps to ensure that all students, regardless of their abilities, are able to learn and succeed.

This information is probably not news to you as the word differentiation has been ingrained in our brains, as educators, since our first day of undergraduate education.

Even though we are all aware of differentiation, educators still struggle with how to effectively differentiate lessons for the variety of students that we encounter on a daily basis.

Today, I want to discuss how to differentiate a popular review activity – Doodle Notes.

These are an amazing tool for checking what students have understood from a lesson. They are one of my favorite reviews, and my students love them too.

If you’re new to using Doodle Notes, be sure to check out my blog post on how to use them first. Then head back here and discover some great ways you can differentiate them for your students!

Ok, let’s dive into how to differentiate Doodle Notes.

An image of a teacher helping a group of students with an assignment.

What is differentiation and why does it matter?

Let’s have a quick refresher of what differentiation is…

In the classroom, differentiation means adapting lessons to meet the different needs of each student.

One of the key benefits of differentiation is that it allows all students the opportunity to learn, regardless of their situation. Some students may have learning disabilities, while others may be gifted and talented. Some may speak English as a second language, while others may come from low-income families.

Without differentiation, some of our students will struggle in lessons and fail to achieve their best.

An image of a high school student with his head in his hands because he is struggling with his school work.

Differentiation addresses these issues by providing students with different ways to learn and different materials to work with. This allows teachers to meet the needs of individual students, providing additional support and resources to those who need them most. 

When differentiation is done well, it can lead to better student outcomes, including improved test scores and higher levels of student engagement.

As educators, we all want our students to reach their full potential, right?

There are so many ways to differentiate, but today we’re going to look at differentiating a popular review activity in science classrooms – Doodle Notes!

An image of a happy female student that is holding a binder and books, with other students in the background.

Differentiate Doodle Notes by using different versions

You can use different versions of Doodle Notes with different students.

Yes, all of the students in your class can be working on the same set of Doodle Notes, but with modified versions!

Here are some examples of modifications you can use with Doodle Notes:

  1. Scaffolded notes with fill-in-the-blank sentences: give these notes to students that need more support with independent writing tasks
  2. Open response notes: these notes are completely empty, so that students can add their own notes
  3. Colored notes: these notes have the pictures and diagrams already colored in, so that students who struggle with motor skills or simply don’t enjoy coloring can still have a full set of engaging notes
Two sets of doodle notes showing how you can differentiate doodle notes for students

This sounds a little scary to manage, but actually it is wonderful once you try it!

I’ve noticed that students with the scaffolded notes actually end up supporting students who have the open response versions. This really promotes student dialogue, and gives the students with the “easier” version more confidence.

Tip: I don’t use the words “easier” and “harder” with my students. I say “scaffolded” and “open response” as I think labeling activities by difficulty is limiting and can affect student perception.

Differentiate Doodle Notes by assigning them digitally

I know, I know. Using Doodle Notes digitally?! It sounds impossible!

But in fact, Doodle Notes are great for digital assignments! And this is another wonderful differentiation strategy you can use with your students.

Some students I’ve taught had an IEP which required them to use a laptop to complete work in class. This can be due to their motor skills, writing speed, or even eye-sight.

For these students, I can use the same set of notes as the rest of the class, but in a digital version!

A laptop on a desk has a set of digital doodle notes that are being edited on Kami

I assign them using Kami. Kami is a PDF mark-up tool that lets students write on the Doodle Notes digitally. They can zoom in on certain sections, add text boxes, and even doodle on the notes!

I’ve got a blog post that takes you through the steps of how to assign Doodle Notes digitally – check it out!

As a side note, you can also use the digital version of Doodle Notes for absent students – easy-peasy!

Support small groups of students with Doodle Notes

Now this is a general classroom differentiation strategy, but it works great with Doodle Notes in particular.

As mentioned, I recommend using Doodle Notes as a review. This means using them after students have learned about the main concepts of the lesson. I let students work independently through the Doodle Notes for most of the period, and walk around to support any students that are stuck.

But, if I know particular students struggled with the content of the lesson, I pull them into a small group. We sit at a group of tables and go through the Doodle Notes section-by-section together.

This really supports your lower-ability students and gives them more contact time with you to ask questions.

A teacher sits at a table with her students and they are all smiling at each other

If your classroom set up doesn’t have group tables, you can also get students who need more support to come up to sit at the front, while the other students work independently in the back rows. You can project the Doodle Notes on your board and talk through them.

Using small groups is a great differentiation strategy and it is easy to try!

Model Doodle Notes for students

Some students will need extra modeling to understand how to complete the Doodle Notes, particularly if they are fairly new to using Doodle Notes.

I print a few copies of the completed example and show them to students that need more support.

Some students also have anxiety around completing their work perfectly. It can be reassuring for them to check their work part-way through the lesson.

An overhead shot of a set of completed differentiated doodle notes

Now, I only give the students a couple of minutes with the completed example – the last thing I want is for students to mindlessly copy down all of the answers without thinking about it themselves.

We go over the notes together as a class in the last 10-15 minutes. During this time, students fill in any last gaps in their notes.

Did you know? All of my Doodle Notes come with a completed example and answer key presentations, so you can easily model the Doodle Notes for students that need it!

Differentiation and Doodle Notes go hand-in-hand!

I hope you found this post informative and helpful. When push comes to shove, differentiation should be a top priority in all of our classrooms. It helps our students thrive and achieve their best.

Trying something new can be scary, but the benefits will definitely outweigh the fear.

So I challenge you to take one of your classes and try differentiated Doodle Notes!

If you need to pick up some done-for-you differentiated Doodle Notes, I’ve got a whole bunch in my store. Check them out!

I hope you have a wonderful day,

Emma The Teachie

P.S. You can shop all of my Doodle Notes right here in my store!

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