Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Summer Stock Up: Don't Let Interactive Notebooks Scare You

Summer Stock Up: Don't Let Interactive Notebooks Scare You

Are you thinking about next year? I know I am! This is a long post, but I promise good info, a FREEBIE, a giveaway and a SALE! Can't beat that!

Interactive notebooks are all the rage. As soon as I heard about them, I wanted to give them a go. A coworker warned me about how difficult they were and that I needed more training. She scared me a bit. But I am wild and crazy and love a challenge. So I jumped into interactive notebooks with my 3rd graders last year. And now, I will never go back! I want to give you a few tips and suggestions that might make those interactive notebooks just a bit less scary.

What are interactive notebooks?
Interactive notebooks are journals that students use to keep their class notes and activities in. Rather than just a page full of text, interactive notebooks encourage students to be creative. They include foldables, flaps, sorts, and activities that get kids to create and move elements as they learn. My students actually call them their "scrapbooks." Scrapbooks help to preserve memories from a special event. And interactive notebooks help to preserve memories from academic lessons.

Why use interactive notebooks?
Interactive notebooks require more prep time than a worksheet. Students need more modeling and directions. They often take more class time to complete. So why do them? A scrapbook is a lot more work than a simple photo album. But a scrapbook tells more of a story and after putting so much time and effort into each page- the created cherishes the work. An interactive notebook requires more time and effort by the student. It tells more of a story. And in the end, students cherish it and take tons of pride in their creation. I am all about getting students to take pride in their work! If they take pride in it, they will use it and remember it! Throughout the year, I would notice my students reading pages in their language notebook during our snack break. They were using their free time to review and reread a skill that we had covered in language! I found my notebooks to be a big help with my students who were kinesthetic learners, artistic or spacial. But honestly, the biggest reason to use interactive notebooks is that they are FUN! And what teacher doesn't want to make learning fun for their students?!

When do you use interactive notebooks?
I don't know a teacher out there who has extra time to fill. I think that finding the time for interactive notebooks is the biggest challenge. Since last year was the first time I tried these notebooks, I decided to just do language and reading. I experimented with when to add to our notebooks. At first we did them full group. After a mini lesson, we would return to our seats and add the info to our notebooks during our practice time. We did NOT do this everyday! Maybe once per week. The benefit of doing it whole group is that I only had to give directions once. After a month or so, I started using the notebooks during guided reading groups. Every group received the same activity to add to their notebooks, but they received a different level of support depending on their skill level. I liked this method because it was easier for me to see if a student was struggling with the skill and offer additional support. Occasionally, I would use the interactive notebooks as an independent assignment during workshop. I only did this with skills that I was certain they were ready to work on without any teacher support. I also was sure to have a sample of the folds in front of them and I often let them work with a partner.  This year I am taking the plunge into math interactive notebooks. I am over the moon excited about this! I plan to use a combination of whole group and guided math groups to complete the activities. My advice to you is to experiment and use what works for your students. There is no wrong way!

Materials You'll Need
The materials that you need for interactive notebooks are pretty inexpensive.

  • Notebooks (I like composition notebooks, but spiral notebooks would work.)
  • Colored Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue Sticks
  • Markers, crayons or colored pencils
Tips for the Beginner
  • Before your students start adding pages into their notebook, have them glue a few table of contents pages into the front. Next, have them start numbering the blank pages in their notebook. This will make it easier for them to keep the resources organized so that they can refer to the page when necessary. 
  • Get LOTS of decent glue sticks. My class ran out of glue sticks by December. I couldn't figure out why. And then it dawned on me! Interactive notebooks were taking the place of worksheets and so we were using twice as much glue as the year before. I am asking parents to donate extra glue sticks this year.
  • I suggest using a separate composition book for each subject. Next year, my students will have an ELA (reading and language) notebook and a math notebook. I notebook holds the entire year if you split them up by subject.
  • Make a sample. I have my own interactive notebooks now. (Great for showing my administration how I am implementing the Common Core!) I found myself cutting, coloring and gluing each week as I prepped for lessons. I highly recommend spending some time over the summer creating your sample books. It is a great activity to do while you catch up on your television programming! Or maybe, if you have older children, you can convince them to give you a hand! I am hoping to get my math book made ahead of time so that I  don't have to worry about it during the school year.
  • Purchase some templates to get you started! You can make your own, but that gets tedious. Let someone else do the work for you when you are just getting started! 
My Interactive Notebook Products- Get stocked up for next year!

Just click on any of the pictures to be taken to the product in my TpT store. They will all be 20% off until Sunday!

Abracadabra Affixes: PowerPoint, Interactive Journal, Printable & a Game

Language Flaps

Math Flaps

And my newest interactive notebook! 

I am super proud of my multiplication notebook! You can grab a FREE sample from my multiplication notebook today and tomorrow on my Facebook page. Just click on the Summer Stock Up tab at the top of my Facebook page. You will need to be on a computer in order to grab it.

On to a GIVEAWAY!!!
I am so excited about my blog makeover! Isn't it adorable?

I am so excited that I decided to do a giveaway! How would you like to win $25 to spend in my TpT store?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the rest of the goodies that my blogging buddies have for you!


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  2. I've already made my new teacher toolkit for behind my guided reading table. I've also started selling things on TPT; so far, I have 4 products. :) I've also read The Book Whisperer and I have started on The Cafe Book. I've been pinning things like crazy and reading blogs even more! I can't wait to try out interactive notebooks next year! I think I want to do one for reading, one for math, and one for writing. I don't know beyond that. I just hope I can do them well! I'm moving up to 3rd grade next year from 1st so I was excited to find your blog!

  3. I have torn every file out of my room and am reorganizing everything! Mind you, I pulled it out and put it in the middle of my room so I'd have no choice but to get it done. I also would like to have everything organized and ready for the year. Wish me luck! I'm always "organized chaos" at best so I'm going to need it.

  4. Loved both of the posts...full of great info! We have used interactive notebooks is science and math for a couple of years, but I'm excited to try it in language arts as well. :) Quick question--how do you do a running record in math? Thanks for any assistance! :)

  5. I'm moving from 1st to 3rd after 18 yrs. so I have a summer full of learning and planning to do!

  6. I am implementing Math and Reading INBs next year! I currently have my reading stuff on my coffee table, ready to start putting together my sample! I'm excited, but a little nervous, too. I'm putting lots of items on my wishlist for TpT...gotta get that jump start for BTS '14! I also have a list of products to create, 1 I just finished yesterday, yay! :)
    Thriving in 3rd

  7. I am going to organize and 'plan' out my whole year. I want to implement Interactive Notebooks, so am going to make a teacher's notebook for each subject. Your post will be an immense help...thanks so much! :)

  8. I plan to review all of the materials I have on Interactive notebooks, and figure out the best way to incorporate them into my classroom. I also want to really figure out how to best approach science next year to incorporate more STEM activities.

  9. I want to get some guided reading and guided math organizational items made.

    Swinging for Success
    Follow me on Facebook!\

  10. Redo reading and math workshops. Keep reading great blogs. :)

  11. This summer I am working on getting a money unit together for all my special ed. levels. I am also hoping to organize my digital files in a better way that will make them easier to find!

  12. I will be reading some pd books and planning for next year.

  13. I have pinned so many things that I am going to make a list of what I would like to accomplish. Love your blog!

  14. Getting interactive notebooks set up.

  15. My big project has been reorganizing all my files. Now I'm on to building my own teacher binders and revamping how I teach reading. I really want to encorporate interactive notebooks!

  16. Great advice! I am going to refer folks with questions to this blog post! And I am pinning it for me for later!
    Reading and Writing Redhead