Doodling in your text books is bad! I do not recommend it. At all. However, let's say you have to doodle in your text—like, if you don't, you get in trouble.
Okay, sometimes I just can't pass up scooping articles that are a little bit on the odd side just for their entertainment value. And this one is pretty darned entertaining if you temporarily put aside any abhorrence of the practice of students doodling in textbooks.
And, I'd suggest that there is much of value to think about by teachers who themselves are life-long learners.
A few of these are no more interesting than the common drivel that some students believe is incredibly sublime. Fortunately, none approach the obscene or scatalogically disgusting levels that are also occasionally found.
BUT, in a time when education reform focuses heavily upon encouraging our students to be creative thinkers, there are several in this collection that truly are amazingly creative.
Personally, I'm a marginalia guy. I love to scribble notes and ideas in the margins of loved books (EXCEPT OF COURSE MY COLLECTABLES!). I love highlighting passages, and even have a color-coding system for my highlights. For example, when I'm building a Google Lit Trip, I use GREEN to highlight any indications of locations that I might be able to find on Google Earth. It's kind of a mnemonic device since green is a really common color of places on Google Earth. Similarly, when I come across a passage that references a topic that I think might be one where a website link might provide enhancing information, I use BLUE highlights; the mnemonic being that most website links are blue. I use YELLOW for any passages that I thought might make for interesting discussion starters, since YELLOW highlighters seem to be the default for "this is important." And I use PURPLE for any other spots of potential inclusion such as vocabulary words that might be actually perceived by students as being particularly interesting or useful. In this regard, I always prefer that a Lit Trip placemark's limited content be as focused on promoting interest in the story and in reading, so when I do include vocabulary, I want it to be perceived as a cool new word rather than as a new word not perceived as interesting but only as something "I might be tested on."
Remember The Velveteen Rabbit? I had never read the story until I was well into my teaching career. But, I couldn't help but love the concept that as the stuffed rabbit began to deteriorate over the years of being loved that the deterioration itself was the measure of how much the rabbit AND the story had been loved. I kind of feel this way about my favorite books. Marginalia personalizes my relationship with loved books. And, over the years, okay, over the decades when I occasionally pull an older book off the shelf and discover marginalia I'd written way back in college, or much earlier in my teaching career, there's a bit of nostalgia and introspection regarding who I was back then, what I thought was eye-opening, beautiful, poignant, or significant at that time and how I might currently feel given the wisdom-refining influences of the aging-process.
But, of course, we need to discourage the defacing of school books in order to assure their suitability for repeated use. So, I had two methods for addressing the need or desire to doodle or write in the margins. One is that I encouraged students to buy a package of the tiniest size post-its. I pointed them to the small single packets with one pad of each of several colors, though I kept a large supply to give to students.
I wanted the smallest size post-its so they didn't block too much of the page text. I taught the kids to remember to write whatever notes they wanted with the sticky edge at the top. This way they could stick the post-it on the page in such a position that they could let just a thin edge of the color stick out beyond the page. This way they could see the various colors sprinkled throughout the book but not have so much showing when the book was closed to cause problems when thrown into a backpack.
Two advantages became quite apparent to the kids. First, by jotting a quick note about an important passage, it caused the kids to pause for just a short moment which gave them time to contemplate the notion and reasons they were marking the passage. Traditional note taking of course does this, but not "in location." And, that makes a subtle but incredible difference. My notes aren't distant from the source, they are AT the source making it so easy to connect peripheral storyline, to the quick note. The second advantage was that after finishing the story, they have a book with color-coded post-its peeking out of the book. This was considered a great advantage when they then engaged in the post reading closure assignment such as an essay or other project. They realized that finding evidence of "something they sort of remembered" from the story was easier if they could scan that rainbow of post-its peeking out for the color they knew represented a theme or a good quote or whatever.
The only deal I made with the kids was that they had to remove all of the post-its before turning in their books.
I must tell you that there were several students who really wished they could keep those books. And I had a simple solution for that problem. I told them "to lose the book." Then, the policy was of course, that if they lost a book they had to pay for it. And, it wasn't long before some kids were planning to lose their books ahead of time which gave them permission to write in them too.
As to doodling in books, I was a doodler myself as a kid. Though I always doodled on paper. In those days, it was fairly common for me to get reprimanded by my teachers for not paying attention. I was basically a good kid so I tried to stop because I wanted to be good. But, I often found the urge to doodle trumping my attempts to not doodle.
I always remembered this when later in my career, some of my colleagues would express a bit of distain for the teachers who felt that it was okay to pull out their knitting during a faculty meeting.
Yet, some years into my career I stumbled across some research indicating that rather than being a distraction, doodling actually worked quite a bit like white noise in its ability to block out distractions.
Doodling actually was discovered to have an ability to enhance attention; as I came to realize knitting probably had done at faculty meetings.
Of course, this is not a black and white conclusion. Doodling and knitting can certainly also distract one's attention. But, what is distracting for one might well be focusing for another.
Ironically, there is evidence to suggest that traditional note taking can be quite distracting as one races to scribble down a thorough set of notes during a lecture only to be distracted from the new points being made in the lecture during the time consumed completing the notes on a previous point. (see http://voices.yahoo.com/dont-take-notes-college-students-better-grades-107275.html)
So the other method I employed for doodlers was to invite them, if they had to doodle, to do it on a post-it and when that post-it had no more doodling space, they were to simply stick it in the middle of the page of the book where they were when the post-it had no more space. It wasn't to stick out like the other post-its. It acted more like a bookmark they could flip through the pages to find. Why? Because if they had actually distracted themselves rather than focused themselves while doodling, they had a very easy way to find out where they may have missed something worth reviewing.
It also gave individual students a very clear indicator whether they actually were being distracted or focused by the doodling.
So, we all know about individualized, personalized, and differentiated, Instruction. It might be good to keep in mind that what is worst practice for one student, may well be best practice for another.