Interactive Notebooks are not new, but in recent years they’ve become more and more popular. Interactive notebooks are used to allow students to express their creativity as they are learning throughout the year. They can be used for class notes, practice, and to show mastery of concepts, but the key part of interactive notebooks, and why they are so useful in the classroom, is the interactive part. It’s not just that they flip and flap (although that is fun). It’s that students can engage, connect with, and work with the content even after the activity is complete. When done correctly, an interactive notebook is an invaluable tool in the classroom that allows your students to review and practice concepts again and again in a fun and meaningful way.
Practical Reasons to Use Interactive Notebooks
1. Everything is glued in or attached to the notebook, so there are less loose papers, clutter, and everything is neat and organized. I know I many, many students benefit from having built in organization.
2. Because interactive notebooks are visually appealing and creative, it’s more engaging and fun for students.
3. As the teacher, interactive notebooks allow you see growth in your students throughout the year in a sort of timeline. As the year progresses, you can see your student’s mathematical thinking bloom and grown.
4. I’ve shared before about the struggle some parents have with new math and how it’s important to help them understand so they in turn can help their children. Interactive notebooks can be extremely helpful for parents to see and understand what their students are learning.
5. Interactive notebooks are engaging and fun, and if you send them home at the end of the year, they could be a great review for your students to use throughout the summer.
In order to get started with interactive notebooks, you really don’t need much. Each students will need a notebook. You will also need glue and scissors, and that’s it!
When students are setting up their notebook, I find it helpful to allow them to decorate their own cover so they feel a sense of ownership.
Have students leave the first few pages blank so they can create a table of contents (or you can paste in a table of contents as well like the picture above) and then, as they begin, they can number their pages and fill out the table of contents. This is something I recommending doing together before each entry.
You can also create a very simple book mark with tape and string so students can always easily find their spots. This isn’t necessary, but it is helpful.
I also like to tape or staple in a baggie in the back cover for pieces if we have to stop in the middle of working.
As far as what to put into an interactive notebook, there are lots of options: (first grade resource & second grade resources) or you can make your own. The key is to make sure the tasks will allow students go back and interactive with the material later on.
A nice little trick is that you can print posters small for students to include in their interactive notebooks to reference later (check out Erintegration’s post here).
I’m a big fan of having students solve problems and sort into pockets because they are fantastic practice and then make great early finisher activities later on. When using pockets, you’ll need to teach your students not to turn their notebook upside down- that will keep them from playing a very long game of 52 card pick up.
However you choose to implement interactive math notebooks in your classroom, they will be a huge time saving, organization tool that you and your students will love.