Originally posted 10/08:
Years ago, when I was in elementary and middle school, other kids sometimes called me “weird” because I was really involved in my drawing. But they also called me “the artist”, and that made me feel cool and gave me self-confidence in other school subjects besides just art class. In high school the label of artist became official when I started drawing cartoons for the school newspaper. Quite honestly, my drawing skills helped me get through school.
Even if you don’t think you’re an artist, drawing can help you make friends, impress your teachers, and get better grades. Here’s how:
1. Make Friends
People are curious about drawing. Whether it’s a doodle on a notebook, or a picture for a school assignment, your drawings will catch people’s interest.
Let’s say, you take the time to finish a drawing of a super hero, and put it up on the bulletin board for everyone to see. Maybe some students will think it’s weird, others might think it’s cool. But the fact is, they’re TALKING about YOUR drawing. They’ve noticed your unique drawing skills. It’s up to you to take it from there.
You don’t have to be an artist to talk about drawing with other students. Remember, most students enjoyed making drawings when they were young kids. They’ll be interested in talking with you about it. The conversation could be an open door to starting a friendship. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire them to start drawing again!
Having a common interest is important when making new friends at school. Drawing is a pastime that many people enjoy. If you meet other students who really like to draw, consider organizing an art club. You can do creative stuff together such as visual art projects for school events, or making comic books to share with friends.
And don’t forget, friends are always thrilled to receive their portrait, hand-drawn and signed by you. A great way to make friends is to draw your Valentines cards instead of buying them.
2. Impress Your Teachers
Your teacher may or may not be impressed with your sketch of the race car that everyone is passing around during science studies. But chances are good she’ll be very impressed with your drawing of a dragonfly to share during a class discussion of insects.
Your teacher enjoys reading science reports that are well-written and interesting to look at. When your teacher enjoys your report, your chances of getting a better grade are greatly improved. Carefully planned drawings make information easy to understand and enjoyable to read.
Although drawing doesn’t take the place of writing skills, it can show your teacher you understand a subject. When it’s difficult to think of words to write, a drawing can make your ideas visible. Drawing is a form of visual language that helps express your thoughts to your teacher. Effective communication with your teacher improves your understanding of a subject and helps you to become a successful student.
Okay, all this sounds wonderful. But the burning question that’s on your mind is, “How can drawing help improve my grades?”
3. How Drawing Can Help You Get Better Grades
Show What You Know
An accurate, neatly drawn diagram is one of the surest ways to nail down a stellar grade. It shows what you’ve learned about a subject and adds interest to your presentation. A diagram of a flower shows a sixth-grader’s knowledge of photosynthesis.
Drawing and Writing
Often teachers assign a weekly journal for part of your grade. If “a picture is worth a thousand words” then drawing is money in the bank when it comes to journaling. Expressing yourself through drawing opens a direct line of communication with your teacher. Honest communication leads to getting help in difficult school subjects, which can lead to receiving better grades.
If you enjoy drawing, add it to your writing assignments whenever possible. It can be as simple as gaining extra-credit points for adding an illustration of the Spirit of St. Louis to your report on aviation, or as elaborate as creating a graphic novel for your next English literature grade.
Think With Your Pencil
The doodles you draw while talking with classmates on the phone can lead to valuable ideas. Much of your thinking and problem solving happens deep down in your brain. Doodling with a pencil or pen gets your thinking process onto paper. A random doodle can become the solution to a frustrating geometry problem. A swirling scribble can turn into an abstract design for Friday’s art assignment.
Sometimes your teacher simply talks too fast! To keep up with the lecture, try drawing visual notes along with your written notes. Don’t worry about details. Quick lines and shapes can describe how a steam engine works, or show the structure of a plant cell or a dinosaur.
Visual notes are very useful when studying for tests. You’ll form a memory of where France is located in Europe because you sketched it on paper and in your mind. With practice, visual note-taking will become a code of symbols and pictures–your very own visual language.
Organize your notes into multi-page reports by drawing thumbnail sketches. Thumbnail sketches are small, loosely drawn rectangles showing where words, pictures, and charts will go on the pages of a report.
Quickly-drawn lines show positioning of text and give you an idea of how many words to write. Simple pictures show images that need to be created and how big to make them. Use thumbnail sketches to plan all of your school assignments, from power point presentations to designing a poster for a school event.
Draw Better Math, History, and Geography Grades
Bring a smile to your teacher’s face! During math, take time to neatly and accurately draw your geometry lessons, number lines for integers, and shapes for fractions. This helps your teacher to clarify your method and answers. It also shows your interest in learning math, which opens the door to better understanding and better grades. The formula is easy: Teacher Smile + Understanding = Better Grade.
Whenever you can, apply your drawing skills to history and geography assignments. Adding illustrations, such as a drawing of a U.S. president adds grade points to your history report. Taking time to draw interesting details on a map of the Middle East can improve your grade in geography. Whether you draw with a pencil or computer, your oral report on the Civil Rights Act will be more engaging if you include charts and graphs.
Art and Science: A Winning Combination
Letting your passion for drawing flourish in art classes for a better grade is a no-brainer. You’ll find countless ways to put drawing to work for you, such as sketching ideas for a ceramics project or drawing pencil outlines for a watercolor painting. Excelling in art class could be the edge you need toward raising your GPA.
Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Channeling your creative mind into your science studies can help you understand complex scientific concepts and theories. Visual notes on how atoms form molecules are very helpful when studying for the next physical science exam. Your hand-drawn observations showing the metamorphosis of a butterfly can become illustrations for your biology report.
Extra Credit and Extra Curricular Activities
Straight-up: Doing projects for extra credit can mean the difference between lower and higher grades. Ask your teacher how you can use your drawing skills to earn extra credit. Then get to work! Use your imagination and your love of drawing to push your grades up to the next level, and beyond!
Of course, drawing in school is not only about getting better grades. It can also be about helping your school and having fun while you’re at it. Apply your skills towards creating a program to be handed out at the next school play. Let your imagination run wild when drawing posters for school dances and assemblies.
When it comes to the number of ways drawing can help you in school, the sky’s the limit! I’ve shared only some of the possibilities to get you started. If you have ideas on how to use drawing in school, please share them with us. We’d love to hear from you!
More Drawing Ideas and Info:
Drawing Ideas: >Dinosaurs (beginning/intermediate) >Dinosaurs (intermediate/advanced) >Flowers and Trees (beginner/intermediate) >Things in Nature (intermediate/advanced)
Graphic Novels in the Classroom: >Can the X-Men Make You Smarter? >Graphic Novels for (Really) Young Readers >Scholastic: Graphic Novels as Literature (.pdf) >Graphic Novels in the Classroom >Comics in the Classroom