Archive for the 'note-taking' Category

Getting Started In Graphic Facilitation: Tools of the Trade

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

This is a list of the basic tools and sources you’ll need to get started graphics and visual organization in your training and facilitation work.


Sometimes called banner bond, the perfect paper for graphic wall work comes in rolls. It’s generally best to find it on-line and Dick Blick is my preferred vendor. I prefer the 48″ variety. The weight of the paper (20# and 24#) doesn’t matter much. Heavier stocks are a little bit more durable which can be helpful when reusing graphics.


Artist tape is white and can be used to cover up mistakes as well as fasten paper to the wall. It’s sticky enough to do the job but doesn’t damage surfaces. I have been using it exclusively for eight years and never had it take any paint off a wall. It can be expensive in stores but Blick’s prices are very reasonable.


The Alvin Zippy is absolutely the best paper cutter for this type of work. These are often available at local craft stores.



The Grove makes Charters Markers, which are the best markers for facilitation I’ve ever used. I order them by color now, as I primarily use black, blue, green and purple. I have enough red, yellow, orange and brown to last me for years. You might start with full sets and then over time, figure out which ones to order individually. They last a long time and are worth the price. Sharpie makes a set of markers that are okay, but blunt quickly and have some odd colors. Avoid permanent markers and the scented varieties. White board markers often go through the paper.


The Daily Icon: The Winch Workshop

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This is an illustration I did for the Unturned Stone, as a teaching tool for Fred’s workshop on using winch skyline systems for moving stone and other materials in remote areas. A well planned winch system is safe, efficient and protects the environment. They are incredibly simple tools but can be very complex to set up properly.
The illustration was made into a huge poster that Fred uses at the start of workshops to explain the basics of the system. Everyone in the class has a copy for structured note-taking, on 11″ by 17″ paper, usually folded to be the cover for all their other handouts. The big graphics stays up on the wall for the duration of the course. People refer back to it frequently. It’s always illuminating for people to see the graphic after they have firsthand experience with the system. Parts and pieces start to fit together into a cohesive whole. The hands-on knowledge and the conceptual schematic coalesce into a more complete understanding of how the system works and how to set it up and use it safely and efficiently.

The Daily Icon: 1 February 2009

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Today I facilitated board retreat for a local non-profit. We used what I call a Focus Donut to get to the heart of the efforts for the coming year. This is what it looked like just before lunch. We filled in the center after we ate, before moving onto more operational concerns. I had limited space to work with; the backboard on my easel was a sheet of plywood plucked form a scrap pile and trimmed for the job. Worked very well too. It still had an extra bit hanging off to the right that I used for a really narrow “parking lot.”
I like color coded themes.


The Daily Icon: 22 January 2009

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Weather versus climate.

Today I sat in on a geography class for education students at UNCA. It’s a survey class, giving future teachers a broad look at key concepts in social studies for grades 6-12. Today’s topics included the distinction between weather and climate. Weather is immediate, what’s it doing outside right now? It’s called the Weather Channel, not the Climate Channel. Climate is the overall weather patterns, here depicted by annual rainfall.


I attended the class to explore the ways that graphic note-taking can support students to get more out of their classroom experiences. I hope to compare my notes from the day with those of students in the class.

Movement is one of five interrelated themes of geography explored in class today. Throughout history people have moved from place to place bringing with them a wealth of new things.


Mediation Notes Posted

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

This past weekend we had the last two days of the 20 hour mediation course. I have posted all of the notes I took during the four days. We spent a lot of time in role plays and natural, flowing conversations, which I did not document. Graphic notes such as these are intended for people who attended the course, but are fun for anyone to decipher. I did these with Sharpie’s and watercolor pencils on regular paper. I did them at my desk. Notes done on big paper with a whole class create a different record, one owned and understood by everyone in the group.

We talked about what do to in case of an

We had a most interesting discussion about what to do when a brainstorming session goes south…

Mediation Notes

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I am taking a basic mediation course put on by The Mediation Center in Asheville. The course is based on facilitated conversation, micro-lectures and lots of role-playing. It’s been enlightening. I’ve been taking graphic notes during the talky parts of the curriculum. Page two, below, includes a collective definition of mediation, and compares the process against litigation and abitration, in which a guy wearing a floppy tophat decides the solution to your conflict. Not sure what I was trying to accomplish there.

On the first day we did fairly typical, if blazingly fast, introductions. On day two, we started with this slightly more unorthodox and familiar approach.


This is a description of the process of active listening, an essential skill of good mediators, facilitators and trainers. It’s about being present and being curious, which are probably different ways of saying the same thing.



Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

A fun little icon from a recent meeting graphic.


In Action

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Recording the employment policy discussion noted below.

Thanks be to Trish for the photo.

Recording Policy

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Last week I recorded a day long round table discussion on enhancing competitive employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Thirty-five local leaders in the field from Oregon and Washington met and discussed the challenges that people face in finding meaningful work they enjoy that pays. It was an extremely professional discourse, moderated by C.J. Webb from OTAC, focusing on policy inititiaves and the issues of putting effective policy into widespread practice.

I tried to keep my recording balanced between image and word. Policy discussion doesn’t always suggest vibrant imagery, but the conversations about work and people lent themselves to pictures. My favorite image was one of a person being given a job, that turned out to be a bottomless pit, a reminder that too many people with disabilities are placed in jobs and left there, without thought of growth and development or a career path. By many’s people’s reckoning, getting any job is supposed to be good enough.
At the end of the session, the group did a ’round’ with everyone suggesting policies, practices or strategies that would help Oregon change its policy around employment. This was rapid fire and I stuck to just writing the words, as fast as I could.

I used a nice Sakura marker for black outlines and soft pastels for the highlights. Lovely to look at, but not the best arrangement for retouching in PhotoShop. The colors in these digital images are at once faded and harsher than the paper.

Paper is shine.

Image links to larger, legible versions of some of the day’s conversation.

Random Notes

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

A reminder from P.A.T.H. training to facilitate and record the process as a duo.