Saturday, July 21, 2012

ISN Set Up Part 2

Before I go into what I actually put on the first pages, I'm going to explain a little bit about the structure that I use.  There isn't a right or wrong way to do any of this, instead it just comes down to whatever works for you.

When I set things up I use the right side as the "teacher side" and the left side as the "student side."  Some people use left and right sides the opposite way which works too.

So in my ISNs the right side is the "how-to" side.  When they are trying to look up information or remember how to do something this will always be on the right sides.

The left side is where I put some sort of activity that allows them to practice, apply or explain the skill.  I'll be completely honest in that these sides are not always spectacular.  For example, for integer rules I really want them to practice so the left side includes practice worksheets.  Other times I'll come up with a good creative activity that goes there.

I use the same heading for both the left and the right side pages.  I just use the topic of whatever the skill is.  So instead of calling Page 9 "Integer Practice" and Page 10 "Integer Rules Foldable" I just name Pages 9-10 "Integer Rules."

I've seen ISNs that do it both ways, this is what works best for me.  If you are going to number the pages individually just make sure to leave enough blank pages in the beginning.

Each day when the kids come in I have the page numbers and title written on the board and the kids know exactly what to do.  This takes a little bit of practicing in the beginning, but they catch on quick and then it's easy.

So when they come in they see this on the board:

They see this and know to do the following three things:

  • First they open to their Table of Contents (TOC) and fill in what I have written.*I tell them NOT to skip lines because they will run out of room on the pages that we left blank*

  • Next they copy down the vocab word into their Words Worth Knowing (WWK) section.  We also don't always have WWK and some days we have more than one, it all changes from day to day.

  • Last they turn to the page where the notes will go and fill out the page number, date, and title on both the left and right side pages.  

Once they have those three things done I start with the lesson or activity.

I also keep this sign on the wall as a reminder of what a correct heading looks like.

This may seem like a lot to do, but in reality all I have to do is write the TOC and WWK on the board and the kids do the rest entirely on their own as soon as they come in.  All in all they're ready to go with all of this within 5 minutes.


  1. Are the words worth knowing in their binder or notebook?

    1. In their ISN. The wwk section is right after the table of contents.

  2. How many pages do you have the kids skip in the beginning of the notebook for the the WWK section? My luck we would run out of pages before we finished the year and this would drive me crazy if all the vocab wasn't together (OCD lol). What are your thoughts on putting the WWK in the back and work backwards?

  3. Nevermind, I got to the page that said pages 6-11 are for WWK. Is this really enough pages?

    1. It was plenty of room, but you can definitely do more or put them in the back (I've been toying with that idea lately so that it might resemble a glossary more). Or if you run out of room you could also tape in a piece of lined paper where you need the extra room.

      Go with whatever you feel is best, there's no one right way to do it

    2. Thanks so much for your input. Also, do you "grade" the ISN? How do you decide which test/quizzes to let them use their ISN on?

    3. I'm actually planning to do a post on grading sometime this week to explain what exactly I do

  4. I teach 6 classes of geometry. Since it has so many new terms, do you put the words in the WWK and the lesson? I know students are going to complain about going over them again, if they are already written in the WWK. What's your thought of how to set up ISN for geo? Thanks!!

    1. I would just say go with whatever works best for you. I definitely wouldn't have the kids write them twice though. I didn't use a wwk section for my summer class because I was going for something a little different. I guess just think about what you want them to understand about the terms, if there's a lot then go with a page and if not use the wwk section.

  5. Thank you so much for this website. I am so excited to start using these this year!

  6. Hi There,
    Just wondering if you use this in place of your bell ringer/do now? I could see this becoming the bell ringer on the days they need to add to their ISNs, and I guess I could have them do a different bell ringer. Also, how long are your class periods?

  7. Going to start interactive notebooks soon. This has been SUCH a helpful blog post! Thank you!! :)

  8. Thank you for all of this information! I really appreciate the time you took to share this with all of us, knowing that it's time on top of how much you put into your classroom. Best regards, Lauren

  9. Where in the notebook do you start your WWK section?


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