With a semester’s worth of practice, I’m ready to share my experiences with the Interactive Notebook in math and physics.

An Interactive Notebook (IN) is a bound notebook, typically a composition book or spiral notebook that a student uses for notes, practice, and reflections during a course.

The interactive-notebooks Wikispace is a great place to start.

Here are the rules I give the students:

  • The right pages are for input, left pages are for output. That means I’ll often give you notes on the right and you’ll practice or reflect on the left. [Teachers: Write lesson plans, including planned pages where everything goes.]
  • Number each page as you use it. Put a title and date on every page and enter the title on your Table of Contents. [Teachers: maintain your own classroom copy of the book. Students love to look at your example, especially when they’ve been absent. To keep ’em honest, I like to NOT answer the problems.]
  • Never go on to the next page unless directed by your teacher. If you need more space, glue loose leaf paper to the bottom of the page and fold it up. [Teachers: keep loose-leaf paper available for students. Try to anticipate when a problem set will be too long for the space you’ve allotted.]
  • Use pencil and colored pencil only in the IN because marker and highlighter both bleed through the page. [Teachers: keep colored pencils available in the classroom for use on a daily basis.]
  • Use tape or gluestick only because staples add unnecessary bulk and sometimes rip the pages. [Teachers: again, keep these available for regular use.]

I like to keep my extra copies in this wall organizer. The sticky notes and a marker live near the organizer and I often ask a student to keep it organized. (In my picture, you see orange for math and green for physics.)

From School Stuff

I attach handouts into the IN several different ways. Here’s the easiest: se a gluestick to paste the back of the handout into the notebook, sideways. Super-duper cool tip: use the “print 2 pages on 1” option of your printer to get stuff half-size — it fits on a IN page with no folding.

From School Stuff

For the warmup or bellringer activity, sometimes I provide kids with the problem on a slip of paper, to be pasted in. You can get a bunch of problems on one page this way.

We do a reasonable number of foldables in my class. They can also be placed in the IN several ways. One is with the pocket. I like to ask kids write a reflection or conclusion on the bottom few lines, below the pocket. The pocket is also a great place to store lab reports, graphs, or other work that was done outside the notebook.

From Phone uploads

A cutsey pocket can be made of construction paper and stapled in the back cover (glue would be too fragile). Here’s mine:

From School Stuff

I don’t think much of what I do in the classroom could be described as artsy-craftsy. Ok, probably nothing is artsy-craftsy. That purple pocket above is about as cutsey as I’ve ever done.

Aside from being crafty (and therefore appealing to that type of student), the IN helps everyone stay organized. We don’t lose assignments, forget to bring the vocabulary flash cards to class, or need a sheet of paper (that will inevitably get lost).

In part 2, I’ll talk about how I manage grading work if the kids have all their papers with them all the time.