Monday, August 31, 2015

Interacting With Interactive Notebooks Helpful Hints

In our classroom, we have fun taking notes. Usually, note taking involves some sort of manipulative or foldable. The students get to color, cut, and glue. They also get to choose, in many ways, what they add to their notebook. We create an interactive science notebook. Why should you? Students spending so much time and effort working on their notebook, can give them a sense of ownership. They take pride in it. It is theirs. When students have that, we all know they will do their best. The interactive notebook then becomes a tool that they can keep and use to help them learn material. 

When we started creating interactive notebooks, test scores improved and so did student engagement and involvement. Our evaluation scores even went up. Other teachers wanted to know what we were doing. We became the favorite class of many and so can you. So if you're thinking about starting interactive notebooks with your kiddos, keep reading below for a few helpful hints we have for you. 

Helpful Hint # 1-You Do It Too
Think about those students who miss your class or are visual learners. Sometimes they just need to see it. When you do the interactive notebook with them, it gives your students a visual (and an exemplary example) and helps them to see what you want them to do. If they're absent, all they have to do is look at yours. 

Helpful Hint # 2-Keep a Table of Contents
Help your kiddos stay organized by keeping up with a table of contents. Put it near the front of the notebook. Organize it by "big ideas." The first year we did it, we listed every item by title. But when titles take on a more creative aspect, sometimes the students may not be able to look at the title and know the content. So, we now organize the table of contents by topics. When the students need to study lab safety or cell structures for example, they just find the topic in their table of contents and that will tell them where to go. 

Helpful Hint # 3-Display the Table of Contents
Simply get a piece of poster board and laminate it. Make it a large replica of your table of contents. Display it in your room so that your students can keep up. 

Helpful Hint # 4-Use a 3-Ring Binder
The first year we created an INB with our students, we used a spiral bound notebook. By the end of the year, only a few notebooks were intact. Covers were gone and pages were messed up and missing. We even created a drawer for our students to keep them in when the notebooks started falling apart. In a way, this defeats the purpose though. If they store their notebook in a drawer, then they don't have access to it any time they need it (only when they are in the classroom). Using a 3-ring binder provides more protection for your students' pages. It can also save you some time. To add some handouts to the spiral bound notebook, we would have to take time to cut and then glue. For the binder, some items we can simply punch holes in and put them in. 

Helpful Hint # 5-Grade It
Giving your students a grade provides another incentive for your students to do well. Sometimes some lessons take a lot of time. We like to give grades for those. Come up with a form that works for you and give a participation grade. We look for neatness, color, and completion, for example. To encourage our students to keep up, in addition to the periodic participation grades, we have notebook checks every other week. 

Follow these hints to be successful in your interactive notebooking. Seek help. Yes, sometimes preparing the lessons can take a little time but there are so many resources out there where you can find help. Turn to Pinterest or even TpT for some great ideas. There are so many resources and even FREEBIES out there. Be sure to check out my store at for some of them. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!