Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is it really an Interactive Notebook? Is it? ....Really?

Hey Y'all! Can we just jump into this thing today? I am super passionate about interactive notebooks and I have some opinions that might ruffle some feathers. I promise I'm not a hater, I just want to share my perspective.

First and foremost, I want to offer tips on how to make interactive notebook (INB) activities run smoother in your classroom. We all know that cutting + gluing + coloring + sorting + following multi-step directions can equal a HOT MESS in the classroom. But, there are many ways to keep the process smooth and focused on the content vs. the finished product of the "cute" activity or the mess.

*Disclaimer: I did a Periscope broadcast on this yesterday and I received such great interaction. My post was definitely enhanced by the participation of all the amazing teachers who watched!

Here's What:

Plan for Time: Be realistic about the amount of time it takes your kiddos to cut, sort, and glue. You don't want your lesson to be taken over by the logisitics of the activity.

For example: If you teach K-3, then multiple flaps on a page are NOT your friend. They look cute, but uh-uh! I have 8 year-olds and it would take them 8-10 minutes just to cut and glue 5+ individual flaps on a page. Nope. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Plan for Mastery: Your goal is for your students to obtain or show mastery of the concept, not create a cute notebook page. Keep that in mind when selecting activities. There are some super cute INB pages floating around on Pinterest, but I know for my classroom it would take way too long to assemble and the academic impact wouldn't match that time commitment.

Get the most bang for your buck!

This goes right along with planning for time. Anything you can do to save minutes during the lesson is GOLD! Some examples are:

-Pre-cut as much as you can before hand
(even if it's just cutting off the edges).

-Walk around and help your students during the cutting or gluing times
(you are assessing them on the content of the activity, not the cutting and gluing).

-Copy on color when possible, this will make directions go faster.
You can say, "Cut the pink piece" or "Glue the yellow piece at the top".

This is where the title comes in. If your students are not INTERACTING with the content, it is not an interactive notebook. If there is no action (hence: interACTive) other than writing, it is not an interactive notebook.

Does gluing in one piece and having students write answers equal an interactive notebook activity?....


That doesn't mean the activity isn't of value or doesn't have a place. It just means that you probably shouldn't label it as an interactive notebook activity in your plans, or call it an interactive notebook when you sell it in your store, or buy it thinking you're getting something your students can hands-on interact with.

That's it.

I'm sure they'll still learn from it.

Yes, the students gain knowledge from simply doing the activity. But how much more powerful is it when they revisit their learning for reference.

The best thing is when a student starts to ask you a question and then stops themselves and says, "Nevermind, that's in my notebook!"


That is so powerful!

They learned it, they created it, they wrote it with their own hands, they remember doing it, and now they can refer to it. They just learned how to be a problem-solver and help themselves. That's a life skill people!

Granted, it does take many times of the teacher reminding them to check their notebooks when they ask questions, but they will get there.

Here are some quick ways to refer to the content:

-2-3 minutes at the beginning of the lesson to review specific pages with a buddy and then share out whole group about what you've been learning

-Send home for homework review and to share with parents (only if you are 100% sure you will get them back)

-Use as a time filler! Need to fill 3-4 minutes before lunch, have them pull out a notebook and interact!

**These tips have caused me to be so much more purposeful. In return, my lessons have run smoother and students have gained more value from our activities!

Let me know what you think!

Comment below or reach out at Adrienne@HavingClassinThird.com
(Yup, I'm a dot come now. YAY!)

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