Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Interactive notebooks ramblings part 2

ISNs can be used in EVERY subject
I have heard: "Well yeah that works great in math and science, but I'm not so sure I could do it in [insert other subject/grade level here]."  This is false.  It won't work if you're not really dedicated to it, but it can work for anything if you put enough thought into it.

I love ISNs for math but I actually love ISNs even more for subjects like history.  This is saying a lot considering I was never too successful or interested in history.  I had to opportunity to help develop an ISN for world history and I was just overwhelmed with how much it helped me and the students to learn.  

Taping worksheets into a composition notebook does not equal an ISN
Interactive is the key word here.  An ISN should not just be a place to keep worksheets.  An ISN takes things to the next level.  For every set or notes or foldable or worksheet that goes in, there is an element that requires the student to process the information.  

This even applies to things like the class rules & procedures.  Instead of just handing out the classroom expectations, I have them do a "high-five" activity.  They go over the information and list the 5 most important pieces of information.  This allows them to make the information more personal.

In an interactive notebook for every piece of new information that goes in, there is an accompanying activity designed to help the student personalize and understand the information.

Kids actually use their notes
This is hands down the most important part for me.  I teach math so we have a lot of rules, steps and such.  I don't give students notes just to fill up their time, I give notes to explain step by step how to do things.  I really want them to use their notes as a reference guide when they forget something and aside from my super motivated students, most kids just don't think the same way.  With their ISNs though, they do.  Everything is organized, concise, and easy to understand.  They actually realize why we write down processes and rules and examples and such.  I watch them refer back to them when they need help before asking me for help and to me this is priceless.


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Just found your site from a Pinterest Pin. All the information on your blog is very impressive. I can't wait to look over it! I am a BIG ISN fan. In my 6th grade social studies class we use our ISN daily. I can't imagine teaching without one.

    1. Do you blog about it??! I would love to hear what kind of things you do for social studies..I had the chance to work on a history one once and there are just so many possibilities for it, it's such a great thing for history.

  2. Do you allow your students to use their INB on quizzes and tests?

  3. Hi Sarah, I'm looking for a way to contact you, just to let you know that I stumbled upon your site while doing research and would love to include your work in my paper and all due credit will be given and cited. Would you be ok with that?


  4. Sarah-
    How do you have the students keep track of their homework?


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