Friday, July 27, 2012

Interactive Notebooks

The session I was looking forward to the most at #TMC12 was Megan Hayes-Golding's talk on Interactive Notebooks (INB).  (Here's her information on it from her blog.)  I'm hoping to use them in my Algebra 1 classes (one honors, one general) as a way of keeping the kids organized and avoid the shove-the-papers-in-the-backpack-never-to-be-seen-again disease.

I've been sitting tonight (while the Olympic opening ceremonies are on... I have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. Thanks, Twitter!) trying to do some planning for my INBs.

First, I typed up the notes I'd taken at Megan's session (which was great, btw!).

  • Store in Ziploc bag with colored pencils (4), mailing label on edge (w/name), tape/glue, highlighter
  • Decorate the cover (bring in magazines) and cover w/clear packing tape
  • Table of contents – 1st 4 pages
  • Inside cover: Class syllabus/rules?
  • LHP = output (Left-hand-page)

·         Think/process/put in own words
·         Warm ups
·         ALWAYS USE COLOR (helps learn/remember)
·         Give copy of IN: Left Side WS
·         Re-solve problem(s) on whiteboard that was hard for them
·         “Get them handling their notes”
  • Be on same page at all time (may need to have 2 page 17s) = don’t pre-number!
  • Give stamp/star for complete HW & entry in TOC
  • Attach HW in NB? (leave in spiral); attach reviews in INB after completion
  • Closing activity: have students ask questions
  • Create foldable with their questions
  • Keep model copy for class
  • Keep copies of handouts available (layered folders?)
  • Collect/check on test day = record hw grades then
My  next task was to check out the formatting for any word doc that I'm going to give them for their INBs.  I've seen a lot of talk about printing two-to-a-page, but for my fill-in notes I want to give them as much room as possible.  Since I want to tape/glue an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper into a 9.75 x 7.5 inch composition notebook, I decided to set up margins of 0.75 inches on both top and bottom, 0.5 inches on the left, and 1.5 inches on the right. (I want to leave some extra space to tape the paper into the book.) I may need to play with these numbers a little more, but I'm hoping this will work out ok.

Then I started thinking about what to put where.  The plan is to give them a copy of my rules/syllabus to put on the inside front cover before the Table of Contents starts. This is one paper that the kids usually lose and I'd like them to have access to it for the whole year.

As for what's going in the actual notebook itself, I'm going to give my typical fill-in notes sheets (with adjusted margins, of course) but I rarely am able to fit it on just one side of a paper. Here are my two options:
        1.  Take up two pages in the INB for the notes. 
                 Pros: I could use the first LHP for the warm-up and the second to tape in the exit slip.
                 Cons: We'd go through the composition book that much quicker.               

       2. Layer the note pages one on top of another.
                 Pros: Uses less paper in the composition book. Notes stay together on one page.
                 Cons: It could get all flappy. Not as much room for warm up/exit slip, but those could be layered, too.  (bulky?)

So that's something I'll need to decide.

As for my exit slips (which will be new for me this year!), I think I have a nice little plan coming together. On the fill-in notes I've used in class already I always include an "On Your Own" section that I make the kids do before I give them their assignment. These would be perfect as exit slips! I already have an exit slip form made up (I posted about it here). I could pass it out after notes, have the kids put them in the red/yellow/green bins (thanks to @druinok for the yellow bin!!) and then return them the next day to be taped into their INB. That should work out perfectly.

I definitely want to get into foldables this year, too. But that's another post. 


Anonymous said...

Great post! I did a lot of fill in notes last year too, I think for now I'm just going to have them on the right side and have then last page fully taped in the the top page only taped on the left side so it flips like a book. Another solution I've seen is that you print your notes out like normal, front the back and then at the end of class then fold it in half and tape just tape the top of the paper so it can fold out to see the front and flip over to see the back.

Something I plan on doing for days where there are no guided notes are having precut notebook paper that can fit in the book to work as an extender.

I blogged about all my cosmetic features if you want to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've been lurking math blogs for the past few months and finally decided to comment. I am also planning on implementing Interactive Notebooks for math next year and have been pondering these same things, so I love this post for two reasons. 1. Ideas! 2. More motivation to start writing things out instead of keeping it in my head. (At the moment my blog is blank, but at least it exists!)


KFouss said...

@mathtastrophe - I'm worried about the bulkiness of having too many folded papers in the composition nb. My notes almost every day are double sided, so that's a lot of folding. Obviously something I still need to decide on! :)

@theoldgumtree - Thanks for commenting! If you haven't seen mathtastrophe's post on INBs, check it out ( - she's got some good ideas :) Also, I find that it really helps me to type through my thoughts instead of letting them just rumble around my head. Please jump in!


Anonymous said...

More thoughts as I've been playing with different ways to tape inside the book. If its just one page double sided notes I would keep the, that way just scaled down to fit inside the book like we talked about on twitter. Have them fill it out and when they tape it in just have them tape along the left edge, that way it flips kind of like a page in a book, then you still have that whole right side to write more on.

Did that make sense?

Megan Hayes-Golding said...

@mathtastrophe has an excellent description for taping a 2-sided sheet of notes into the notebook.

That said, let's now hear from the devil's advocate: Notebooks are cheap -- I say use more space. When the kids go back to handle their notes, you want them to be able to find stuff easily.

Let's see how the math works out: I usually used a pair of left and right pages every day. The composition book has 100 of these. Lop off 10 for administrivia, and you've got a page a day for a typical semester. One notebook. If you use 2 pages per day, that'll come to 2 notebooks per semester. Not too shabby.

If you go for double sided tape in notes, invest in the rubber bands so the kids can hold their notebooks closed. :)