Monday, July 18, 2016

Interactive Notebooks - The Perfect Combination of Lecture and Handout Notes!

Lecture notes = stand and deliver in many minds.  Guided (fill-in-the-blank) notes = spoon feeding in other minds.  Neither one is better or worse than the other.  Instead they are structured to meet your students at the place that they are at.  The reality is, though, that in a class of 28 - 35 no one is at the same place.  So how do you meet them where they are at while retaining the flow of the class?  This is a struggle that I have had for the better part of 20 years through a 7 - period day, 6 - period day, trimesters, semesters, block and probably more that I cannot remember!  In addition, we have tried to be more "green" and "paperless" in my district as well which further adds to the struggle when you are trying to not make multi-page handouts that will just be (hopefully) recycled at the end of the semester.  So this year, I am trying  going to pilot something different in one of my classes - Interactive Notebooks - that I think will be the "perfect" marriage between the two methods!  I wanted to share with you why and how I'm going to go about it!

Cut and Paste
1)  Interactive Notebooks help students to stay organized helps them to reference back to old material.  One of my biggest frustrations is when students are trying to find something in a folder that is jam-packed with old assignments, notes, handouts and 1,000 other pieces of paper.  While it is fantastic that they are keeping all of these things, they serve no purpose if they can't find anything in them!  By using an interactive notebook students have all of their notes, IN ORDER, and can actually find them when they need them.  Some teachers also have students number the pages and keep a table of contents (which makes so much sense) so that they know exactly where the material is.  This is a fantastic thing, especially at the secondary level when material spirals and keeps building upon each other.  Although I did not use INB this year, I had a couple of my honor's students
bring out their INB from the previous year (yes they kept them!) to look up previous ideas!

2)  Interactive Notebooks help to hold students accountable for and engage them in their own learning.  With many of guided notes, I find that a few of my students literally only fill-in-the blanks and don't write anything else down.  While this is by far a slim percentage of my students, as a teacher I want to reach them all.  I asked my students why this was and the common response was
that they don't know how to take notes and that they write slow (especially if the blanks are words that they are not familiar with).   INBs allow teachers to go more in-depth and help students to focus in on small pieces of information which leads to students writing more down.  Students also seem to feel more ownership because they can annotate easier and add things around the page.  

Angles of Elevation and Depression
3)  Interactive Notebooks should save paper, resources and time.  Since the interactive notebook pages are smaller and many less pages than traditional notes it should save on both paper and copy machine resources.  Most INB pages can be printed two to a page or are tabs that you can paste into the regular notebook and write under, both of which will save on paper.  Fewer copies means less time at the copy machine which means more time for everything else!  Additionally, since INB pages tend to be shorter, it will be easier to go over them more in-depth with absent students instead of having to wait for them to copy down multiple pages of notes from other students first.  Instead you can create an Interactive Notebook of your own that can act as a key.  This way  absent students can just borrow yours to fill in theirs and you can copy just one or two pages of your notebook if you need to send something home instead of multiple pages.

Similar Triangles Cut and Paste
4)  Interactive Notebooks meet students where they are at.  Interactive notebooks allow students to pick their pace.  If they need more examples, they can write them on the notebook page around the INB paste in.  Or if they want to explain how different ideas tie together, they can write the page number of the related page on the INB page and have quick reference.  Additionally, for those students who have accommodations, INB pages are easily differentiated to meet their needs.  I have even found that when surveyed, my honor's level kids liked the idea.  They stated that sometimes it is nice to have the diagrams done so that they can go further and explore the ideas more in-depth instead of getting bogged down with drawing everything.

Congruent Triangles Cut and Paste
I am going to try out Interactive Notebooks in one or two of my classes for the first couple weeks of school and do traditional guided notes in my other.  After a couple of weeks, I will let my students chose which one they like better.  I suspect it is going to the Interactive Notebooks.  I'll keep you posted!   Click here to get my Interactive Notebook pages on Angles Formed by Parallel Lines for free!   I would love to hear how you use Interactive Notebooks in your classes!  Please share below!  

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