Interactive Notebooks Tips & Tricks: Part 1

Interactive notebooks... What are they all about? Why would you want to use them in your classroom? Are they worth it? 

These were some of the questions I asked myself before I decided to start using interactive notebooks with my students several years ago. 

Interactive notebooks have become one of my favorite learning tools, as well as, one of my students favorite learning tools. I hope through this blog series. you will come away with a few new ideas, some more confidence to implement them fully in your classroom, or make the changes necessary to make using interactive notebooks in your classroom more realistic.

This interactive notebook blog series covers the following areas:
  • Part 1: Why Use Interactive Notebooks
  • Part 2: Notebook Set Up
  • Part 3: Notebook Management
  • Part 4: Rubric & Grading
Note: These are my own personal experiences that I will be sharing with you. The strategies I share may not work in every classroom. Please use this information to help you get started using interactive notebooks in your own classroom. Tweak and adapt the ideas so they work for YOU and YOUR STUDENTS!

Before we begin, please know that I struggled with starting to use interactive notebooks in my classroom. It took me a solid 2 years using them to finally feel comfortable and use them effectively. Each group of students is different, so I am always changing things up. The information I am going to share is what consistently works for me. I will also share a few suggestions I have received from other teachers who use interactive notebooks in their classrooms.

We all have a VARIETY of students with different learning types in our classrooms. Some of our students like to work independently and some like to work with a partner. Some of our students like to stand up or move around while they are working. Other students can sit in their seats, focused, for lengths of time most adults can't even compete with. The reason I love using interactive notebooks is because all my students are engaged. Not only are they working on demonstrating their academic skills and knowledge, but the activities are hands-on so they also get to work on those fine motor skills that often get left out. This is usually the time when I see natural use of academic language with peers too. WHAT? Yes, that is correct. They are using their math vocabulary or grammar knowledge NATURALLY with their peers. That makes this teacher smile, because I know they are owning their learning.

One of my favorite things about interactive notebooks is the evidence of learning it provides. At conferences with parents, it is one of the tools I pull out to show what skills have been learned. Parents can see the quality of work, higher level thinking skills, explanations of how the child solved the problem and so much more! AND... its is less prep on me for conferences! YES, PLEASE!

Interactive notebooks serve many purposes in the classroom from review of skills, modeling thinking, mastering standards and more.

Our interactive notebooks become a large part of our learning. We use them all year on a consistent basis. My students give feedback to one another about how they solved a problem or the quality of work they produced (more on this during the Rubric and Grading part of this blog series). However, because their notebooks are something used on a weekly basis they become proud of the work they are producing. Every once in awhile, I also like to choose one or two students to share the way they complete an interactive notebook activity with the entire class. It may highlight HOW a math problem was solved or the quality of work and effort put into completing the assignment. This builds self confidence and encourages other students to do their best, as well.

Interactive notebooks serve many purposes in the classroom from review of skills, modeling thinking, mastering standards and more.

Our interactive notebooks become a reference tool. Some teachers like to use interactive notebook to preteach concepts. I use them as a review of skills I have taught. By doing this, I am able to see who understands the skills that have been taught and who needs a mini lesson or small group work to continue development of a skill. What ends up happening most of the time, is my students forget how to do something or come to me with a question. Then, I refer them to their notebook for guidance. They become more proactive with their learning eventually and depend less on me giving them the answers. I also allow my students to take their notebooks home to study for a unit test. This method does not work in every classroom. It really depends on the students and parents and how responsible they are to return the notebooks to class when asked. I am not always able to do this with my own students.

Interactive notebooks serve many purposes in the classroom from review of skills, modeling thinking, mastering standards and more.

Whenever I tell my students we will be working in our interactive notebooks, I usually hear a lot of hissing snakes saying YESSSSSSSS! This makes me so happy! They really don't even realize they are practicing their math skills. It's like a fun craft or project for them. They are eager and willing to get to work and they usually have giant smiles on their faces while doing it! What more can a teacher ask for?

If you are ready to jump in and get started, be sure to check out all my TOP SELLING Math, Language, and Reading INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS. Each notebook comes with sample pictures of every page, notebook covers, strand tabs and MORE!

Take a closer look with this FREEBIE:

I hope you were able to take away a few ideas, tips, and tricks to use with your classroom interactive notebooks. Be sure to check out the rest of the series:


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