Improve Student Comprehension: Using Digital Drawings for Visual Learning

Explore how to enhance student comprehension by creating digital drawings that highlight the major events of a story or chapter.


A student example that uses Memojis, drawings, and text to showcase different key elements from text.


This lesson was created to support students in upper elementary who were struggling to identify the difference between major and minor details in a story. By utilizing drawing to create a visual representation of their understanding, students will:

  • Strengthen active listening skills
  • Improve note-taking abilities
  • Differentiate major vs. minor details
  • Summarize text effectively

Tools and Platforms

You can use which ever platform best works for your classroom needs. These are recommended but not the only platforms you could use the complete this activity.

  • Keynote: Allows students to include drawings, shapes, tables, text, and audio recordings. It has multiple drawing tools available directly in the app. This can be exported as a photo or video.
  • Notes: Allows students to include drawings, tables, and text. It has multiple drawing tools available directly in the app. This can be exported as an image or shared with others.
  • Freeform: Allows students to include drawings, sticky notes, stickers, shapes, and imported photos. This can be imported as a PDF
  • Sketches School or Sketches School Pro: Multiple drawing tools. Sketches School Pro is paid app. In this app you are able to use layer to create your drawings. It can be exported as an image.
  • Apple Pencil, LogiTech Pencil, Stylus: Any stylus can be used as a drawing tool.

How to Get Started

Download the Notes template for active learning.


Document with two columns for notes and a bottom section for a summary.
Students will use this template to take notes while the teacher reads the story aloud. Once the chapter is done, students will turn and talk to share what notes they took. Then students will highlight all information that can be physically drawn as seen on the anchor chart model below.


A two column chart with green text from the story. There is yellow and pink highlighting on certain words and phrases.

Students collaborate to create summaries and visuals.

Next students work on completing their visual representation of their notes. Their drawing must include:

  • a non-distracting background
  • a clear sequence of events
  • include all major events
  • must be 80% pictures and 20% words.
  1. Student drawing with symbols, drawing, and text to visually represent the text.

Demographics & Lesson Adaptations

This activity can be modified to support students of all ages in any subject. You can take out the note taking section and allow students to draw as you are read.


  • Digital Book: Digital books allow for students to create an interactive reading environment. Students have the ability to highlight and make notations directly into text. They can also use VoiceOver to assist all students in access the content. To learn more about VoiceOver click here.


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