Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Interactive Notebooks

I am always looking for creative and innovative ways to make class material interactive and meaningful.  As I've leaped into the teacher blogging world, I have discovered I'm Lovin' Lit, a fellow middle school teacher.  This teacher has a plethora of self-created materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Some of her more popular products are her interactive notebook templates.  She has claimed to have a high degree of success using interactive notebooks in her classroom, so this year I decided to take the plunge and try them in my classroom.

One of the things that scared me the most about using interactive notebooks is the fact I am not very creative in an arts and crafts type way.  Luckily, all of the templates come with detailed instructions and pictures of what the finished products should look like.  I've slowly introduced the templates as they've corresponded to our first unit (author's purpose) and use a visualizer to show the students how to properly assemble each template.  Not only do the students find this to be a much more enjoyable way to record notes, I've actually "caught" many of them flipping the pages back and forth to complete class assignments.  This is something that rarely happened when students took traditional notes.

As far as managing interactive notebooks, I have my students keep them in the classroom.  This prevents situations such as students not having them available on days when new material is introduced.  The designated notebook captains distribute and collect them at the appointed times during the class period.

As suggested on many sites dedicated to interactive notebooks, I purchased liquid school glue as opposed to glue sticks to prevent the templates from falling out of the notebooks. I lucked out and purchased bottles of glue for 50 cents each during Staples' Back to School sale.  I also purchased a set of 5-inch scissors from Amazon, also on sale. While I was not able to purchase enough materials for each of the thirty-six (yes, that's right, 3-6) students in my class, they are learning the valuable skill of sharing.  The materials captains manage all of the materials.  I have told them that with so many students they can be fired and replaced at any moment, so they have been gentle with the materials so far.

All in all, I am excited about introducing interactive notebooks into my classroom.  Not only do they help my students remember and make connections to class material, they help make the trenches a more interesting and creative place to learn.

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