I am by no means an expert on interactive notebooks. Not even close. I was introduced to them in science through the student perspective two years ago and this year I started to use them to with my 8th grade pre-algebra classes. This summer I am teaching high school algebra, geometry, and algebra 2 and I am using them (separate ones) for each class. So my thoughts are purely my own and are based on ISN's that I've used, ones I've seen used really well, and ones I've seen not used well.
Yes, on the surface the first 5 or so minutes of my class might looks like 5th grade art class. Kids use scissors and tape and make things that look like origami pretty much on a daily basis and I'm ok with it all because I know what's really going on.
- We cut and fold things because foldables are amazing graphic organizers. They help to take big ideas and processes and break down them into logical, sequential, and much more manageable parts. I have seen kids refer back to foldables for help about a hundred times more than I've ever seen them refer back to plain notes.
- We tape and glue so that things don't get lost. It is a simple and obvious thought but is SO crucial. (Most) kids lose everything. All the time. And when you give them an extra copy, they lose that one too. When we spend time making an awesome foldable I want them to keep it forever and ever. It's definitely not going to be useful to them in the future if they can't even find it or if it's shoved in a folder.
- We color because it's a fantastic way to help important information stand out and to process information. So many kids are visual learners and coloring/highlighting their notes and foldables really helps them to recall and find information. My kids have at least one highlighter within reach at all times. I will often guide them on what to highlight but my favorite is when kids start to do it on their own. It says to me that they found a bit of information that was important or helpful to them personally and they want to make sure they don't forget it. This is exactly the habit I want them to get into.
This is slightly like my first point, but not really. This is not to say that they aren't good for elementary school. I am so impressed with all the elementary school notebooking ideas that I have seen, so many of them are being used so well. I just think that we shouldn't stop this type of teaching in elementary school. As kids get older and are able to process information at deeper levels we should be taking advantage of that and ISNs provide a good platform to do so.
Deep down it is my secret hope that kids fall so in love with their ISNs that they'll keep them forever and ever and ever. They'll bring it with them to high school, and college, and keep it tucked away on a bookshelf in their home and pull them out every now and then to reminisce about 8th grade math. I know I might be living in a bit of a dreamland, but I like it here. :)
Although the kids may not feel as strongly as I do, they do feel a sense of pride in their ISN that I've never seen in a regular notebook. Taking the time to personalize the cover contributes to this. It's not just a notebook it's their notebook. They feel like they put a lot of time and effort into their notes by creating foldables, drawing diagrams, and highlighting information and it becomes something they don't want to lose.