5 Ways to Improve Your Interactive Notebooks

June 21, 2020 No Comments

You may be using an interactive notebook in your class, but are you making the most out of your interactive notebook? Here are 5 ways that you can improve your interactive notebook.

Please note: This post contains an affiliate link.  That means if you choose to make a purchase using the link provided. Any purchases made through affiliate links will result in a small commission for me at no additional expense to you. 

1) Improve buy-in by starting the year with a discussion about why interactive notebooks are important.

You know why interactive notebooks are important. But, do your students know why you use them? Facilitating a discussion around the importance of the interactive notebook is a great way to help you create student buy-in. 

You can also start the year by showing students some notebooks that were created by famous scientists.  For elementary-aged students, you can use the book Notable Notebooks to help get them interested.

I purchased this book for my daughter when she was in third grade and she absolutely loved it.  In fact, she immediately started writing down observations in her own notebook.  

For older students, I recommend doing an image search for the notebooks of famous scientists.  Then, create a presentation or other activity that will allow your students to observe these notebooks.

2) Stop using resources because they are cute.  

When I started using interactive notebooks in my classroom, I was very concerned with the overall appearance of the notebook.

While students may decorate their notebook and add color to their models, the primary focus of the interactive notebook shouldn't be on making it look cute.  

Make sure that the resources students are adding to their notebook are aligned with the intent of the NGSS.  Not sure what that might look like?  Check out this podcast episode

3) Provide students with scaffolding. 

We know that our ultimate goal is to build student independence in our classroom.   However, giving students control too early can end in disaster.  This is especially true if your students have not been exposed to NGSS style learning before.

In the beginning, provide students with plenty of scaffolding to help them to organize their interactive notebook and make connections to the three dimensions.  Scaffolds could include:

  • Graphic Organizers
  • Outlines of Data Tables
  • Reference Sheets

When students are more comfortable using their notebook and making 3-dimensional connections, you can remove the scaffolding.  

4) Give students space (and prompts) for self-reflection.

If you have done any research about how students learn, you know that metacognition is one of the best ways for students to improve learning.  Have them record self-reflective activities in their notebook.  You might consider the following prompts:

  • How did your understanding change over time?
  • What did your original model/explanation leave out?
  • What parts of your experimental design would you change if you did this investigation again?

Providing prompts like this will help students improve their understanding of the content.  It will also help them improve their skills as a learner. 

5) Have them self evaluate their notebook.

To build on my last suggestion, you should also consider allowing students to self evaluate their own notebook.  Have them evaluate their organization, effort and overall effectiveness of the notebook.  

This type of activity will help improve the effectiveness of the interactive notebook over time.

Want to learn more?

Check out these resources. 

Erin Sadler

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