Monday, October 1, 2012

Interactive Notebooking

Interactive Notebooks...Who has started?  Whose district has required it?  Or who is doing them on their own?  Why the surge of interactive notebooking for students?  From what I've read, research shows it fosters creativity, organization, and independent thinking.  Who doesn't want that for their students?  I personally like them because they serve as great review tools, they are of high interest to my students, and students take total ownership in their learning!  Let's face it, some topics don't lend themselves to "hands on" learning.  Interactive notebooks ARE hands on no matter what topic you're teaching.  What they are NOT, is students listening to a lecture and taking notes (insert high school and college flashbacks here).  They're called interactive for a reason, right?  Students are DOING.  So what are they doing?  They are cutting, bending, folding, coloring, drawing, labeling, creating, writing to explain, and quite simply "showing what they know." It goes without saying that if your students can explain it, they KNOW it!  My students have been "notebooking" for 3 years now.  They WE get a little better each year.  I also try to tackle a little more each year.  I started with ONE Social Studies unit my first year.  (Geography)  The following year I added another S.S. unit. (Government)  This past year I added Economics and am now full throttle with math notebooking. (addition/subtraction, numeracy, money, multiplication, division, fractions, geometry, etc.)  They are available as individual units or cheaper all bundled up.  I'm still creating and adding!

 The few things that stand out about notebooking with my kids is 1.) They love it!   2.)  They have no choice but to be organized!   3.)  Their parents love it because their child IS organized and has access to all of their notes in ONE place.  4.) They are retaining the information better!  (Test scores are climbing!)  5.)  It has helped ME get organized AND more excited about teaching some topics that could normally be considered "boring" or "difficult" to teach.
I'd love to say there was some magic road map that helped me start at point A with interactive notebooks, but there wasn't.  A lot of it was trial and error (and continues to be a work in progress)!! But I would say that the place to start is the curriculum.
A.  Know what you're responsible for teaching and teach it in a way that your students can respond to it!
B.  Get familiar with foldables!  There's nothing MORE FUN than folding paper in a variety of ways to motivate your students into getting information down!
C.  Let go!  You'll be amazed at how creative your students will be if you let them.  TRUE STORY:  I was using the Government interactive notebook template that I created with my students and there's a picture of an old scroll in there.  Students were to cut it out and glue it in their notebooks and add some of the rights we as American citizens have in our country.  I was monitoring their progress when I noticed a student wadding his scroll up.  My first thought was "That little STINKER..." (and I won't go any further with that).  When I asked him what he was doing, he informed me that he was making his scroll look OLD (like the REAL Bill of Rights image we had just seen).  Not only that, but when he was finished making it look 'old,' he wrote some of the rights he had learned, rolled it up to look like a real scroll, and asked me for a piece of ribbon so he could tie it like a real scroll.  :-) He wanted to "QUIZ" his parents about some of our American rights and let them unroll the scroll when he got home in his notebook to see if they were right.

Need some additional interactive notebook ideas?  Try this INB LINKY!   What have you tried?  Success stories you'd like to share?  We'd love to hear! 

NEW to the Interactive Notebooking Party....GRAMMAR GATORS!  Learning about the parts of speech is full of some Super Hero fun!  

Bananas for writing to explain, so you can truly tell "THEY'VE GOT IT!"