Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Interactive notebooks ramblings part 1

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.

ISNs are NOT just cutting, pasting, glueing, drawing, and coloring

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.  


ISNs are NOT just for little kids

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. 

Kids develop strong feelings for their ISNs

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.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for your ideas about ISNs! I am trying them for the first time this year in my 8th grade Algebra class. Do you like using composition notebooks as opposed to spiral notebooks? I'm worried about always having to use half-sheets of paper. Also, how many comp books does a single student use throughout the year? I see my kiddos for 80 minutes every day and am worried that we'll fill them very quickly. Thanks for your help!

    Jessie Hester
    www.MrsHestersMath.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for reading!! I went with composition notebooks just because I think they're a little more sturdy. The pages don't ever rip out or anything so I like it. I also even wrap the covers in plastic packing tape to make them extra durable. I also was a little hesitant about not being able to use full worksheets but I've found a lot of ways to get around shrinking everything.

      I'm planning a post soon about more of those type things, like how I copy, cut, fold, tape papers and all of that stuff. I have some go to tricks that I use in printing and copying things that I'll share.

      Also for the number of books..the way that I use them I only went through one. I don't actually put things into if everyday though. I use it just for the real "notes" that we take, not all of the day to day lessons. I'm going to post all about that and explain it more. My friend that teaches science (who introduced me to the idea) uses them on a daily basis for everything they do and she goes through two in a year.

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    2. I've seen the spiral used before and the pages fall out much easier. For middle school, the composition notebook is probably best strictly for durability and less of an opportunity to 'misplace' things.

      I do 'use' my books everyday, but I may not put things into them. We do tons of projects so we use the book as a source of info. It all depends on how you teach. Take a look at what you've done in the past and maybe gauge it from there. As Sarah and I get into how we use the books you'll see how we've made them work for our classes and maybe take a little of both for your classes. Maybe have two - notes like Sarah and another for other activities and hw like I do with mine. With 80 minutes you can do a lot :-)

      Sorry Sarah, I saw this and had to comment :-)

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  2. I am also a new follower and am using them for the first time in MY 8th grade Algebra I class. I am sure you don't want to step on toes, but I'd love to hear some examples of the things that you mentioned didn't work well with ISNs. It would be nice to know what to look out for or ideas to tweak before giving them to my students. Thanks!

    Brynn
    www.brynncody.blogspot.com

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    1. Cutting and pasting with no purpose behind it. The reason you are using the ISN is to allow the student to explore their learning by means that is best for them. I've seen teachers just look at the book as time to cut and paste to waste time and NOT teach. It's sad.

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  3. I just saw this and love the ideas you have written about. I use the journals in my classes as well. I have had wonderful success with them!! The kids take ownership, and they quickly learn that their journal can be a life saver. Keep up the fantastic work!

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    1. Thanks!! I totally agree about the ownership and finding them to be a lifesaver..exactly what I want and I love it!

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  4. Hey Sarah!
    I am loving these ISN!! My principal came and observed me this week, and she loves them too! Thank you so much for taking time to post your ideas for the rest of us to "steal".

    One questions, how do you handle it when a kid is absent on a day that you are doing a page in the ISN? I can't find time to get them caught up - should I just have them copy someone's from their group? And I have all of these kids who dropped Algebra that are now in my class who I want to get their ISN's going...
    Just wondering what you have done.

    Thanks!

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    1. That's awesome to hear that they're working out and that your principal loves them too!!

      If a kid misses a day they are responsible for making up their own work. I have a filing cabinet set up with extra copies of everything we have done so they can find what they need. I also let them borrow my notebook to set the pages up correctly.

      As far as kids coming into the class, it's your call. If you think it's important for them to have the pages you've already done you could photocopy completed version of the notes and have them set it all up. Maybe try to have them just come one day before/after school or some other time to catch them all up at once? Give them all a copy of your notebook, point them towards the extra copies and let them do it all.

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  5. I absolutely love you ISN's and I have been "borrowing" to the journals in my 8th grade ELA class this year! The students have been so excited! Looking at your blog has been inspiring and motivated me to start my own blog documenting my own journey into ISN. Thanks again, have a great school year!

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  6. I know nothing about ISN. Yours is the first I've read about them. But I'm loving the idea, bc I think we are competing with obviously interactive foe: video games. =) Thank you for the introduction. I enjoy your writing voice. I hope I can return.

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  7. Hai the idea on ISN's is really good as the kids find it easy in their learning procedure.
    Notebooks Manufacturers‎

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  8. We have a 1:1 iPad initiative in my school. Any idea/thoughts/resources about using ISN on an iPad? Thanks!!

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  9. I really like your explanation of how to use Interactive notebooks. It is good to see a high school math teacher doing this. I am a high school science teacher and I started using them last year. It is hard to find people that have used them in STEM classrooms. I really appreciate all the insight that you have given on the subject.

    I love using the Interactive notebooks because it also teaches things that teenagers need to know...organization and responsibility. Not to mention it lets the students be more creative with their learning. I love them. And thank you again for your insight on the INB for high school STEM.

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  10. I really like your explanation of how to use Interactive notebooks. It is good to see a high school math teacher doing this. I am a high school science teacher and I started using them last year. It is hard to find people that have used them in STEM classrooms. I really appreciate all the insight that you have given on the subject.

    I love using the Interactive notebooks because it also teaches things that teenagers need to know...organization and responsibility. Not to mention it lets the students be more creative with their learning. I love them. And thank you again for your insight on the INB for high school STEM.

    ReplyDelete