Implementing Interactive Notebooks – A Challenge and Changes

This year, I had the wonderful idea of using Interactive Notebooks. There are so many resources and ideas online, they just seemed so fantastic. We don’t use the textbooks in any of my classes, so my goal was to create a resource that would replace the textbook for the students.

Some students have done an AWESOME job at keeping up with their notebooks, but this was a very small number of students. Also, we made interactive ‘binders’ instead of notebooks. I chose binders over notebooks for several reasons, some being that we could just put our activities straight into the binder, but the binders came with a lot of problems.

Binders fall apart. Things don’t always stay in order. The little rings on the binders ALWAYS mess up. I didn’t stick with the binders or emphasize them as much as I should have. I initially made a rubric and did binder checks, but it took FOREVER to grade all of the binders. I hated grading the binders so much that I pretty much quit doing it. And it was so discouraging because I would spend so much time grading them, but most of them were terrible (which was a lot my fault, too).

There are definitely some changes that I am going to make for next year.

1. Use composition books for our INBs. This way, things will stay in chronological order. Notebooks don’t fall apart like the binders do.

2. Emphasize the INBs. Remind students. I am also going to keep my own. I kept my own Table of Contents, but did not actually make my own binder. I am hoping that by purposely keeping my own INB, it will help me to place an emphasis on them in my class.

3. Find an easier way to grade the INBs. I’m not sure exactly how I am going to grade them, yet, but it is definitely going to change. It HAS to change. It has to be easier and quicker.

4. I am thinking that I will let students use their INBs on all assessments. That way, it will encourage students to actually keep up with the notebook to help their test grades AND teach them note-taking skills and then how to actually use those notes. That is definitely a skill that my students need some more work on.

Any other ideas or suggestions? Any ideas for easier ways to grade the INBs?