Last Summer I got so many questions about digital interactive notebooks. I’d never used them before so I decided to play around with them this year in my classroom. I have been using a paper composition notebook with my students for the last nine years, and I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. I decided to pilot them in my elective classes to see how they might work for me in my classroom.
Benefits of Using Digital Interactive Notebooks
- They are better for the environment. I try to conserve paper as often as possible in my classroom, and digital notebooks would make it so that there is almost no paper used in my classroom.
- Work can’t be lost (mostly!). Middle school students are notorious for losing things. Google Apps saves everything automatically so nothing is ever truly lost. (However, this doesn’t mean that your students won’t have trouble finding them.)
- Digital notebooks give students a space that can be used to organized digital content. I am using digital content more and more often in my classroom. Students regularly do PhET Simulations, write arguments and engage in peer editing using Google Apps. Students have some material online, and some in their notebook. Going digital means that all of these great things could live in one place.
- Accessibility! There are endless options for making your content more accessible for all of your students when you use a digital platform. Students can use text to speech, video captioning, adjust font sizes and colors and translate materials when they are digital.
Using Google Slides for Digital Notebooks
When I started researching methods for using digital notebooks, just about every resource I found suggested using Google Slides for the notebook. With Google Slides, each slide acts as a different notebook page. Students can add various content to each slide. Google slides is ideal for creating diagrams, annotating graphs and filling out graphic organizers, as well as many other tasks. However, I found that it was difficult for my students to find their work within the slides. Also, it was more difficult to organize material if the task did not fit on to a single google slide.
Using the Table Of Contents Method for Digital Notebooking
For me, slides weren’t the best option. Instead, I created a digital notebook that was based on the idea of the table of contents that is found in many interactive notebooks. In the video I use I outline the method that I used for using a table of contents for creating a digital notebook that my student could use to organize their content.
View this video on YouTube.
Am I Ready to Give Up Composition Books in My Classroom?
Not quite yet. I don’t think I am fully ready to make that transition for next year. However, I do plan to require all classes to keep a digital interactive notebook so that they can have well-organized digital material. I still have a few months to decide…. we shall see!
What questions do you have about digital notebooks? Comment below!
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