Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ISN Course Guide & Expectations

This post is all about the first few actual ISN pages.  This section goes along with all my first week of school stuff.  Since I use the right side as the input and left side as the output, I'm going to go through the pages in that order.  

Pages 1-2 "Class Policies and Expectations"

Page 2 is for the course expectations.  The first thing that goes in is my Classroom Expectations.  I print two of these per sheet of paper and have the kids cut them to fit.  This gets taped down to page 2 using four pieces of tape in the corners as shown below.  

When I give the kids directions on setting this up, I show them the picture below on the Smart Board so they know exactly where to put it and how to tape it.
The next sheet also goes on page 2.  This is where things get fun.
Front of the Course Guide
Back of the Course Guide
This is a double sided page (if you can print directly to a Xerox machine, you can print double sided at 75% and it works perfect).  This page gets put right on top of the Classroom Expectations and the tape only goes on the left side so that this page flips like a book.

Page 1 is where the kids now process the information.  This part is where I started to fall in love with the ISN (it's the little things).  For my first 5 years of teaching I would hand out the Course Guide and I highly doubt that kids ever looked at it again.  They certainly didn't take it home and reread it.  The activity on the left side here forces them to do that.

This is a "high-five" (idea courtesy of Krystina) they trace their hand...which they LOVE...and write one piece of key information in each finger.  Let them have fun with it.  I had kids that colored the nails, drew on jewelry, watches, etc.  What was so cool about this was that the kids actually went through all of my class information and picked out what they thought was most important.  

Simple yet so awesome.  My favorite part of this was actually what I got to learn about the kids. Some kids focused more on consequences (three missed homeworks = detention and things like that) while others focused on rewards (perfect homework for the marking period = 2 pt grade boost)

It was also fun that the kids were SO excited to do this page for homework.  I had mine done to use as an example and all period they just kept asking, "Are we really going to get to trace our hands??!" "Can we color the nails?!" And these were 8th graders.  No matter how old they get they still love this stuff.


  1. I love the "perfect homework = 2 points extra credit"! I never thought to reward my students who have perfect homework each marking period before. It's a great idea!

    1. Thanks! I like this system the best for those students that work so hard but still struggle so they don't have the best grades. I like to reward them for their effort and sometimes this 2 points can just give them a little boost that helps out.

  2. When you give them homework is it always something that can be completed on the left side of the notebook or something else? I noticed in your required materials a 3 ring binder with paper and dividers was needed, what do you use that for? Also, how do you check their homework, is it checked when you take up the notebooks or is it checked daily?

    Sorry for the questions but I have always found ISN's interesting and I have never been able to successfully complete it in my classroom, but you are making it seem possible. I think I am going to try it this year, but I am super nervous! Keep posting! :)

    1. It totally depends on the day. Often the homework is something on the left side, but if not then it goes in their three ring binder. The binder ends up being their day to day work, do nows, and things that I don't really want them to hold on to forever.

      I just walk around and check homework by looking at it. I usually do this as they're getting set up or doing the do now. 2 points if it's done, 1 for partially done and 0 for nothing. I'll then put in their HW grade halfway and at the end of each MP.

      The ISN is definitely intimidating until you actually jump in and get started with it, but after that it'll get to being second nature to you. :) Feel free to ask away about whatever you have questions about!!

  3. I love all the photos you've given to help us understand exactly what you're saying - I'm soooo visual :)

  4. Love the idea. I teach all subjects; any suggestions?

  5. Do the papers stay if only taped on the sides? I like using that idea for when I will want to give students copies of notes/samples that are longer than a page.

    Do you ever staple work in?

  6. Sorry to bother you with another question, but hopefully you won't/don't mind responding...

    I love the idea of starting the ISN with class expectations (hand activity) and the multiple intelligence survey. I plan on doing one ISN for reading and one for writing ( I teach Language Arts). Do you suggest putting the course expectation sheet in both notebooks?

  7. Wow wow wow! I am about to start a new school year and am super excited about ISNs. Never heard of them before but you have inspired me immensely. I teach 5 different classes from 13yrs - 17yrs old but will only try with my youngest this year.

    Just wondering 2 things:
    1. Do you have most / all of the right hand side pages pre-printed to stick in or do they sometimes write directly into the book?

    2. Have you had an issue with the pages that are taped in making the book super fat?

    Thanks :) I have spent the last 3 days reading this blog and I can't wait to see my students in 3 weeks to get started!

  8. My daughter did an interactive notebook for geometry in her freshman year. It was a composition notebook that did get fat. There was glue, staples, and tape for may items. Three years later I am teaching geometry and I use it as my guide. It has been super fun and it is a project grade every 6 weeks for my students.

  9. I just want to thank you for all of your postings and for your time and effort! I was so excited when I starting reading about ISNs and thought I would try it out with my middle schoolers. At the last minute I decided to use them for high school as well. I can't tell you how exciting it is to watch low level 11 th graders fully engaged and focused for 90 minutes ! I am most definitely ISN obsessed!

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  11. On the days that you have an input for the ISN, do you give a Do Now or is the ISN part of the Do Now for that day?


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