Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interactive Notebooks - Again

We have been busy this week reading a novel and have been using our social studies interactive notebooks so I have neglected my language arts one this week.  Have I mentioned that I love my interactive notebooks and truly believe that my students are happy to have such a structured approach to learning.  AND...that they have a valuable resource to refer back to when needed.  I also love the fact that pages are not falling out of their notebooks or have just simply disappeared (those are some of the problems I had when using binders and having students place notes in these binders). 

I am a very visual learner, so I am going to include a few more pictures in this short but sweet post.  I am reminded of an acronym I have been using with my students when working on summarizing...KISS It!  Keep It Short and Simple.  I learned of this acronym when I did a stint for AT&T before landing a real teaching job. 

No laughing at my horrible artwork is the content we are interested in viewing!

This is a notes page about the Elements of a Short Story...notice how each page is titled and dated. We start off day one and number each page. Each time we complete an entry in our notebooks, the date and title are entered as well.
This is a Sensory Figure I found at Mrs. Gannon's Wordpress site.  She has a bunch of pages dedicated to interactive notebooks and social studies.  Remember...I am not an artist! I put many things like this in my notebook so my students can refer back to them as needed throughout the school year.  After discovering Pinterest, I realized these would be considered types of anchor charts.

This is a foldable created using the 12 Powerful Words.  This is a list of words that occur most often on student questions, especially test.  I tried to get a picture of a couple of the tabs lifted where you can see the word on top and the definition is under that flap.
This is a list of sample character traits I found and we glued in our notebooks.  This is a great "thinking started" for students when they are stumped.  My students probably refer back to this page more than any other in their notebook. 
This is just a set of questions related to the short story "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros.  I found this idea somewhere on the web to create the questions in a strip that were glued to the side of the page (can be either on the left or right - on the right here so it doesn't cover up the holes of the notebook page).  Students were required to answer the questions in a complete sentence - this is the page where I modeled that expectation.

This just shows a page where we took notes (8 Ways Characters are Revealed) and we still had 1/2 a page leftover. some point we needed to add a list of common helping verbs in their notebook.  Why waste space, right?  We just cut the longer list in half and glued it to this "free" space in our notebooks.

Just some notes on theme, but wanted to show that when mistakes are made, we just cross them out and keep on rolling. 

Just a horrible graphic organizer where students were telling about different aspects of their life.  This was in conjunction with reading Knots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli.  This is his autobiography.

This is a close activity on the Elements of Autobiography.  It is a good idea, but is too crowded.  Next year, this will be divided into two pages and have more room for students to write.  This was created during the whole left side reflection/right side input side.  Like I reported in an earlier post, I scrapped that idea and just use the next available page - what a great revelation this was for me!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Logistics of Interactive Notebooks

After reading all of the information available online about interactive notebooks, I gave them a shot a couple of years ago.  The concept made sense to me, but some of the rules did not.  My first year I tried the left/right scenario where teacher input was on the right and student input was on the left.  That honestly did not make sense to me, but we made it that first year with that concept.  Last year, I did the same left/right set-up, but I switch it to make more sense in my little brain.  The left side was for learning and the right side was for reflecting.  In my small world classroom, that made more sense to me.

I still struggled keeping students on the same page since some students write bigger or smaller than others and some had college ruled notebooks while others had wide ruled notebooks (next year, I am requesting all college ruled).  I went to the NC Middle School Conference (my team won Region 6 Team of the Year) and attended an interactive notebook session for science.  I know I don't teach science, but was hoping to get some goodies to convert for language arts.  It was like EUREKA because I came away with one little tidbit of information that completely changed my frustration level with keeping students on the same page.  How? you may ask:  students tape/glue in an extra sheet of paper on the page where they are working somehow if they run out of space devoted to a particular assignment.  It was GENIUS. 

Then this year, I scrapped the whole left/right side idea and we just use the next available page for whatever we want to put in our notebooks.  This process has worked so much better for us this year.  I make a conscious effort to keep pages together so students can see lessons/notes laid out next to their reflections they are creating.  We still add extra pages if needed when I devote 2 pages to notes/ideas and it takes them 3 or more.  Sometimes, I even have to add extra pages in my own notebook as I wrote bigger than expected or did not plan enough pages in the beginning.  This just allows for modeling and for students to see that it is okay to add more pages if necessary.

Below is a notes page on plot from my teacher notebook.  
 Another page of notes from my teacher notebook below. 

Below is a picture of my teacher notebook where we were taking genre notes.  You can see where I ran out of room on my two allotted pages and attached another page with tape to extend our working area. This is taped so that it folds into the notebook (from the far right toward the spiral spine).   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interactive Notebooks in Language Arts

I went in to school today for a couple of hours and took several pictures of my teacher interactive notebook that I use in my language arts classes.  I have not found a specific website to use interactive notebooks in language arts.  I read any and all information that I could find online before I started using them in my own classroom.  I have modified them from their original setup to fit my own style of teaching. 

I guess I should start at the beginning.  Much debate has been done about what type of notebook to use.  I prefer a one subject spiral bound notebook with a poly cover, 100 sheets, college ruled, with a pocket in the front.  Other people prefer to use a composition notebook or a binder.  I have found with a binder that pages tend to get lost no matter how careful you are about putting items in the notebook.  With a composition notebook, the pages do not fall out, but space is limited.  I have only had one or two pages fall out over the years and we just tape to the next page - problem solved. 

My notebook of choice is from Staples.  It is the Accel brand.  They can be found on sale during the school year and especially during the summer for $2.00 each.  The Mead Five Star ones work and are similarily priced.  I like the Staples ones better because it has a clear poly folder in the front and a thicker spiral that does not get snagged on stuff.

Here is a picture of my choice notebook and a link to them at Staples.  But...make sure they ARE on sale!  Click on the notebook to find them at your local Staples.

Here is part of the table of contents page in our interactive notebook.