Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship
Interactive Notebooks: Scary. Intimidating. Overwhelming. Problematic. Unmanageable. The list of words that come to mind can keep going. Are we right? This is where we started out seven years ago. Seven years ago, we were used to using the basal reader, doing the worksheet pages and calling it a day. Easy. Turn the page and do it. No sweat off my back. No fingers pointing at us if it didn’t work. BORING.
When we discussed the possibility of switching over to Interactive Notebooks, the thought was overwhelming. Many questions came up: Are we allowed to do that? What will we do in these Interactive Notebooks? Will the students like them? Will we like them? It was scary. We will be the first to admit it.
Once we made the decision to switch over to Interactive Notebooks, our Interactive Notebooks took on a life all of their own. We started out scouring Pinterest for ideas of what we could do with our students inside of our Interactive Notebooks. We would plan these ideas out together as a team and then go do them with our students. This didn’t last long. Once we started, it just became part of what we did. We would come up with ideas right on the spot. Students would come up with ideas. It was fun. It was engaging. We fell in love with Interactive Notebooks.
Here are the Top 3 Reasons that We Fell in Love with Interactive Notebooks
Interactive Notebooks Build Student Relationships
Building student relationships is the number one reason why we love Interactive Notebooks. Teachers get to know their students on a personal level and students look forward to their teacher reading what they have written. We always have a couple of students that insert little notes by their work or little illustrations for us to see. It is seriously the cutest thing ever! We really get to know our students through their writing responses to prompts, journals, free writes, and art work. We love writing notes in the margins of their journal prompts to show that we value what they have to say. With this comment, we know that we have just turned a lot of teachers off. “You mean I have to read everything they write?” Yes! If Interactive Notebooks are not “interactive,” students will quickly see that their work does not matter and it is not valued.
Now, with this being said, how can you manage reading through a whole class set of Interactive Notebooks? We have found that the easiest way is to have due dates for each student. We read through three notebooks each day, and with a class size of thirty, we get to each notebook two times a month… each every two weeks. Going through three Interactive Notebooks takes us around fifteen minutes each day (five minutes per notebook). The time that is spent on grading is time that is well invested, and you will see results. We have a lot more to share about grading and checking Interactive Notebooks, but we will go into this more in depth in a later blog post.
Interactive Notebooks Have Your Year’s Worth of Learning in One Ready-to-Reference Place!
The beauty of Interactive Notebooks is that your entire year’s worth of learning is documented in one easy to find resource. These notebooks become EVERYTHING to your students. If they have questions about a topic, they can just look back at lesson notes, foldables or prompts. The notebooks become their reference source for their year. We love having students glue in lists of character traits or lists of common themes that they can refer back to for other assignments. Students learn to treasure their Interactive Notebooks and see their value. We had one student come back to us to tell us that she still used her notebook… and she was in the eighth grade!
Not only are Interactive Notebooks valued by students, but they are also valued by parents! We want you to imagine for a moment that you have a child in fourth grade. They come home from school and you ask them what they learned about. This common question is usually answered with one simple thoughtless word… Nothing. Now, in a classroom that has worksheets that are turned in after every lesson, the parents would never truly know what their child actually learned throughout the day, and in turn, you, the teacher, lose credibility. But wait!!!! You don’t have this kind of classroom (phew!) You have a classroom that uses Interactive Notebooks (applause inserted here)! The parents of the students in your class can grab hold of their child’s Interactive Notebook and be AMAZED at what their child is actually learning. And it gets even better! “What?” you say, “How can this be?” If the parents of your students have questions about homework, they have the answers!!!!! That’s right, take a bow… you’ve earned it!
Interactive Notebooks are useful to more than just students and parents…. they are invaluable to YOU! Let’s say that parent-teacher conferences are coming up. Some teachers would need to spend all of their time gathering work samples and data to show parents, but not you! You simply grab the child’s Interactive Notebooks and you are good to go! Imagine your administrator walking into your classroom and browsing through a student’s Interactive Notebook… BAM… YOU ARE AMAZING! Imagine going to an IEP or other Intervention meeting and you need to show a student’s progress. Grab their Interactive Notebooks and mission accomplished!
Interactive Notebooks are the PERFECT Goal Setting Tool
Many teachers aim to set goals for their students and also want their students to set goals for themselves. Interactive Notebooks are the perfect tool to make this dream a reality. After grading each notebook, make a note at the end that states something that you noticed while reading their work. Maybe they used run-on sentences or maybe they aren’t giving enough details when they write. Maybe it’s a capitalization issue. Whatever you notice, write a quick goal for them to achieve by the next time you check their notebooks. Then, the next time you check their notebook, take a look at the goal you set for them and let them know if they reached it or not. If they did, set a new goal. If they didn’t reach their goal, keep the same one until it is accomplished.
Students can set their own goals in their Interactive Notebooks also! Students can evaluate their work right before you check it and tell you something they are proud of and one thing they want to improve for the next time. If you set a goal for them, they can also evaluate if they think they have achieved it or not. They can do this on a checklist, in a letter to you or just by using symbols. Interactive Notebooks provide a short span of work that can be measured and evaluated.
Interactive Notebooks… Start TODAY!
If we have done our job in this post, we hope that you can see the value of using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom. Interactive Notebooks have been our answer to effectively teaching our students. You might be thinking, “Yes, I want to do Interactive Notebooks, but I don’t know where to start.” We are here to help you with this common thought. Our advice to you is to start small. Find what works for you and go in that direction. We have created five activities for you to use with your class TODAY that will help you get started down the amazing path of Interactive Notebooks. The best part is that these activities are FREE! ENJOY!
If you enjoyed this post, please let us know in the comments below! We would love to help you out however we can. Stick with us and we will walk you through how to make Interactive Notebooks successful in your classroom! Until our next post, Bye!
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