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!


  1. Thanks for sharing this Randy! I am totally with you on usign the spiral notebooks. This year I have kept or I should say tried to keep an interactive notebook updated in social studies but I have not in language arts. I will definitely do this next year! Maybe we can brainstorm together some topics we will need for common core! Talk to you soon....Becca Lawing

  2. I love your notebook ideas. Do you have a copy of what sequence you use for he year? I too teach sixth grade and would love to see what order you teach certain concepts.

  3. Thanks for the ideas and examples of an interactive notebook for Language Arts.

  4. Love this!! I started doing an interactive notebook last year but got lost in all that went with it. I am hoping I can better organize my thoughts so they will have a successful notebook this year! I am also wondering if you have a copy of the sequence in which you use for the year. Love your blog! Thanks!

  5. I love your ideas!! Do you lecture and write in you teacher book at the same time and then allow them to write? Or, how do you do it? My mentor teacher in student teaching used Interactive Notebooks but she didn't do a teacher notebook so this is my first time seeing them.

    This is my first year teaching and I love this idea but I am nervous about making it work for next year's classes.

  6. This post was so helpful! I was recently hired for a 6th grade social studies position and I've really wanted to use interactive notebooks in my classroom. Thanks!

  7. You mentioned in this post that you scrapped the input/output idea. Can you tell me why? Everything I have been hearing has promoted that and I want to make the best decision as I begin the implementation of the interactive notebook this year...Thanks!

  8. Great idea! Thanks for sharing. Question: At what point during the class would the students paste worksheets in their notebook to create the least distraction possible, to save time, and to make sure it is dry so that when writing on top of it, it doesn't tear with the pressure of pen or pencil?

    1. Sarah,

      I try to do all of my glue work at the beginning of class. If I ever have my act together enough, we may glue several days worth in at one time. I know it is a little time intensive, but the payout far exceeds the amount of time used.

  9. I realize the date for this entry is 2012. I am a high school English teacher and considering implementing interactive notebooks for my sophomores and honors upperclassmen. What resources do you recommend as helpful with setting up the use of interactive notebooks?