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?



Interactive Math Notebook

In my last post, I talked about some changes that I will make for next year, and some things that I plan on incorporating into my classes. I mentioned an Interactive math Notebook, but I think that mine is actually going to be a binder. Searching online and all over Pinterest, I have found some really great ideas for INBs.


From my research and my ideas so far, here are the major parts of the INBs that I will have in my class:

  • This INB is actually going to be a binder instead of a notebook. That is just a lot more versatile, and since it will be my first time implementing something like this, I’m sure I will have a billion different ideas and change my mind just as many times.
  • Personalized Cover: Students will have time in class to decorate the cover for their binder to really make it their own.
  • References Section: This section will include a calendar with important dates, syllabus, student progress sheet, copy of the rubric for the notebook grade (which I will be making eventually), formula sheet that they would have available for any standardized test/EOC, any other important information, and a Rules sheet that I will adapt from Live. Love. Math. Students will read the rules at the beginning of the year, sign them, and when they ask why they have to do something, I will refer them to the rules that they have in their notebook.
  • Glossary: This section will obviously be dedicated to vocabulary words. The words will be grouped by unit, and students will have their own glossary, with definitions that make sense individually, and pictures or examples for the words.
  • Content Section: The very first page of this section will be a table of contents. It will include the title of the page, the page number, the date, and the unit that it falls under. After that, this section will include everything that we do for a unit: notes, foldables, homework, quizzes, tests, everything. This way, students will have all of the information they need, all of the information that was given to them in-class, everything!

I think that the INBs will be a really good way to help students get organized, and start to use things like notes and quizzes as learning tools. I have also seen some really neat ideas about the right side of the notebook being the ‘input’ side that would include notes, foldables, and testable information given by the teacher. Then, the left hand side is the ‘output’ side, where students have to do something with the testable information, and give some sort of output using that information. It seems like a neat idea, and something that I might try to find  a way to incorporate!

I’m sure by the time that the school year actually starts, I will have plenty more ideas, but that’s all that I’ve got for now!