WOW! I cannot BELIEVE it’s been a month since I hosted my first Thursday Throw Down. Time sure does fly during the summer!
Lately, my inbox has been FULL of questions about interactive notebooks. I try *really* hard to respond to every email and to answer each question completely. Often, the same questions come up again and again, so I’d like to do a sort of FAQ about interactive notebooking that can serve as a reference for some future questions. I’m going to *try* not to be too long winded – or too bossy. We’ll just see how that one turns out.
Do I need to plan out my entire notebook for the whole year ahead of time?
First of all, slow down. There is absolutely NO NEED to plan your entire notebook out ahead of time. That’s absolutely nuts. I typically plan mine weekly or by the lesson or topic. Just save a few pages (3 should be plenty) at the front of the notebook for your table of contents. Every time you put an activity into the notebook, record it in the table of contents. That’s all you have to do to keep up with it. No need to have it planned out. If you like planning and have that much time on your hands, that’s fine with me. But mine is going to be flexible, change year-to-year, and reflect my students’ needs.
Do I need to keep an interactive notebook, too?
YES. ABSOLUTELY. You should keep a model interactive notebook FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL CLASS. I have 6 classes, so I have 6 notebooks. Specifically, I teach 2 sections of each grade (6th, 7th, and 8th) and sometimes I even find that one of my 6th grade notebook is slightly different from the other one. Perhaps I took a shortcut because of a fire drill or did an extra lesson with only one of the classes. Keeping 6 notebooks also helps me to ALWAYS know where I left off with each class if we didn’t finish an interactive notebook activity. And if a student was absent and missed a lesson, I’ll have him come after school or at some other time and just hand him my notebook and the templates/information he needs to catch up. It really isn’t extra work if you think about it – you’re going to model each activity for your students anyway, so I’m modeling while I’m putting it in my notebook. I model under my document camera and couldn’t live without it. FYI, I have a Hover Cam, and after purchasing several different brands (avervision, epson, ladybug) my Hover Cam is by far the best. I have the cheapest model.
What type of glue do I use? Glue sticks don’t stay and liquid glue is too messy.
First of all, DEFINITELY do NOT use glue sticks in your interactive notebooks. They just don’t provide a durable stick. You have to use Elmer’s School Glue – the white stuff in the bottle. If your students are making a mess or their notebook pages are all wrinkled-up, then they’re doing it WRONG. Teach your students to use tiny dots (I call them baby dots) about one inch apart to glue anything down. NEVER use the scribble pattern / toaster-strudel style with the glue. That’s when you get the mess. I don’t require my students to bring their glue to class everyday – I don’t want it spilling in their lockers or backpacks or getting smashed under books. I just keep a class supply in my room. I’ve got 6 classes and we glue all the time. When used properly, a regular sized bottle of glue will last all year. They’re 50 cents at Wal-Mart right now, so go stock up and for $15 or less you’re set for the year. How do you keep them from walking away? Easy. I just duct-tape mine and they’re forever marked. Last year, I only lost 1 bottle of glue out of 30. It’s the duct tape.
This looks like a lot of cutting. Isn’t that a waste of time?
Heck, no! I firmly believe it ISN’T. Here’s why. First of all, your students are DOING something. I know, it sounds like a weak argument, but it’s true. They’re not sitting in their desks for the entire 50 minutes listening to me drone or doing a worksheet or taking notes. They’re active. The physical act of cutting around a template is actually going to help seal this information you’re teaching them into their brains. It really, really is. They held and modified and fondled and wrote on this PRODUCT and it’s going to be so much more meaningful in their brains than any notes or worksheets ever would. Secondly, you don’t have to WASTE that time simply cutting. While my students are cutting out templates, I’m talking away. I might be talking about the subject or topic at hand or I might be giving constant instruction if it’s complicated. Also, my students know that if they finish cutting early and are sitting and waiting, they are free to get up and walk around (within reason) and help other students finish cutting out. This sounds crazy but it does NOT get out of hand. When I don’t have anything to say and the task is easy, I turn on music. My students always realize when there’s a lull and they’ll make requests. What kinds of songs do I play? Check out this post where I blogged about a few great songs that teach literature content.
Do I have to use composition notebooks? They aren’t on my supply list.
Yes, you must use composition notebooks. I’m sorry to tell you this, but those spiral notebooks are not going to hold up. Pages will be torn out and they’re just more flimsy. You *really* need to use composition notebooks. Go and buy them now if you need to while they’re on sale everywhere (specifically Wal-Mart and Target) for 50 cents each. Last summer, I had this exact same problem. I have 145 students. So, I store-hopped over the course of about 2 weeks. I picked up 30-40 notebooks at a time (so that was only $15-$20 at a time, small enough that a spouse won’t notice it, ahem) until I gathered enough. Don’t forget to buy yourself one for each class and get a few more for new students that come during the year. I’m glad I saved my receipts, because my principal ended up offering to pay for them and I was able to get reimbursed. Still, it was totally worth pilfering that $75 from my checking account. Interactive notebooks are THAT GOOD!
I know that many teachers start out using these notebooks in math, but I absolutely LOVE using them for my reading classes. My students’ notebooks are full of content that they actually “created” and it makes an excellent reference guide when they need a refresher throughout the year. It’s the perfect study tool!
Are you curious about interactive notebooks but not sure you’re ready to take the plunge? I just uploaded this brand new freebie for those of you who might be on the fence or who might just want to try out a lesson or two before diving in.
I hope you’re here to link up for today’s Thursday Throw Down! You’re invited to link up your blog post about how you make your lessons interactive for your students. It can be about ANYTHING interactive – some examples include interactive whiteboards, music, manipulatives, projects, group work, interactive notebooks and lapbooks. Everyone who links up will be emailed my newest clip art product, Chalkboard Frames ~ Brackets & Bubbles in Ice Cream Shoppe Colors.
Be a good dance partner and don’t forget to throw down a comment to at least one other blogger who has linked up!