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General Science and Teaching

Science Interactive Notebooks

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Jurema Gorham Jurema Gorham 480 Points

So for next school yearI believe I want to use interactive notebooks to help my students with notetaking. I have read articles that this has proven effective. How many of you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? Have you noticed an improvement in your students notetaking and comprehension of material taught?

Sarah Henley Sarah Henley 905 Points

I tried the interactive notebook last year, but I had a really hard time getting my students to keep up with it. In general, those who kept up with it were the ones that needed it the least, while the students who needed it most wouldn't do it. I do think it is a good idea, I have a colleague who has had a lot of success. He has them include all notes, msjor assignments, and labs. If I try it again next year, I think I will need to implement a daily check (last year I only checked it on test days, which gave the students way to much time to fall behind).

Juliet Kim Juliet Kim 2340 Points

My students keep a science notebook that they have been adding to since the beginning of the school year. They take notes, add handouts, take activity notes, and input anything related to science in their notebooks. I find that it keeps them very organized. They also have all their notes in one place so studying for assessments becomes less complicated. I also, at times, let my students use their science notebooks when taking assessments.

Doris Padilla Doris Padilla 3345 Points

So for next school yearI believe I want to use interactive notebooks to help my students with notetaking. I have read articles that this has proven effective. How many of you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? Have you noticed an improvement in your students notetaking and comprehension of material taught? I think an interactive notebook would be great especially for the older students in middle school and high school. I have a notebook for my science class in college and I think it's great. This can be a good opportunity for students to practice their organization skills as well as their writing skills. You can put fun sections such as : question of the week and lab work. Students can keep track of their own work and reading. Even though I believe it will be harder for elementary students to have a notebook and keep track of it,nevertheless, I think it is still possible and fun for them to use. The elementary students can draw pictures to better explain their writing and explanations.

Doris Padilla Doris Padilla 3345 Points

So for next school yearI believe I want to use interactive notebooks to help my students with notetaking. I have read articles that this has proven effective. How many of you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? Have you noticed an improvement in your students notetaking and comprehension of material taught? I think an interactive notebook would be great especially for the older students in middle school and high school. I have a notebook for my science class in college and I think it's great. This can be a good opportunity for students to practice their organization skills as well as their writing skills. You can put fun sections such as : question of the week and lab work. Students can keep track of their own work and reading. Even though I believe it will be harder for elementary students to have a notebook and keep track of it,nevertheless, I think it is still possible and fun for them to use. The elementary students can draw pictures to better explain their writing and explanations.

Angelo Laskowsky Angelo Laskowsky 2190 Points

I use an interactive notebook with my students and I love it. It's become a theme with my science department. About 4 of us are doing it, now, and others want are thinking about doing it next year. My TEAM is doing it next year, as well which will be a great help. Over the passed 2 years of doing the interactive notebook, I've discovered a few key points to success: 1) It's only as good and organized as I am with it. When i'm on top of my notebook, my kids are as well. It's weird. Since I'm not the most organized person on Earth, I really struggled with implementing it my first year. But! Even the struggling learners (y'know the knuckleheads who are really disorganized or rather lackadaisical about school work and work ethics in general) seem to really benefit from it. They LIKE the notebook (weird though it is), and will do it to greater and lesser degrees. 2) set up a schedule to check the thing. If they see that you're interested in them keeping it up to date, they'll put more effort into it. My solution was every friday I graded the Notebook. They leave them in the class and I make sure that everything is where it needs to go. If you have the kids periodically update their notebooks throughout the week(s), when it comes time to grade, everything is much smoother. The only problem is.. well see point 1. 3) The kids that are obsessive about the notebook are you best and greatest ally. They're incredibly proud of their notebooks> Have them work with a weaker student to get their notebooks in order. Use their notebook (like I do) to catch yourself up if you fall behind. Make copies of their notebook to put into a master book for students to use if they're late, absent, or new to your classroom. It's better than your book, since they'll have examples of actual student work to follow. 4) Put a page number on EVERY handout you EVER hand out before you hand it out. That way the kids can organize their notebooks themselves (my kids came up with that idea.. and it's GENIUS). One of my students lost his notebook, such a disaster, but he said that because I now put a page number on everything he can recreate the book into a binder and it works for him. I'm not too picky about what it is (book versus a binder) as long as they have the bloody thing and use it, i'm good. 5) This is probably the most important one (although #4 is a close second, and i think it's more a corollary to #1). Pound that notebook the first few weeks of school. This year, I spent a good week getting the routine of the notebook set up, and they got it. Next year, i'm harping on the thing for about 2-3 weeks depending on the class. But, i've learned that the more i nagged about it in the beginning, the less i have to nag them about it now. They take it out like clockwork and write their notes in cornell-style. They attach pages in perfectly. Ya, the 'better' students will be better at the notebook in the beginning, but most of my students have really taken to the notebook now, and have adapted it to their learning styles. 6) get the grades before you to do them, or at least the people on your team. The more times the kids have to work with their notebooks (one for each subject), the more practiced they'll be and the more they'll see the value in them. A lot of the problem with notebooks is getting our kids to realize the value of notes and storing and organizing their papers. Part of it is we don't make them actually look at their previous work (i know i didn't before I started with the notebooks, and i still don't do it enough). But, the more times we have them reflect and use their stuff, the better things will be. Part of that comes from having exposure in other classes. The Math teacher on my team is super-conscientious about having them go back to their previous notes and assignments to reflect or use that stuff for the current lessons. The kids have it ingrained in their minds to look that stuff up, now. They've even started applying it to science and the other subjects. If they start doing the notebooks earlier, then they'll have those routines set in place that much more rigidly for when they come to you. And that's an important thing to remember. You're teaching them how to use these things. They might not be perfect with them this year. But, what about the teacher they get next year? Maybe they'll use them with that teacher. You're laying foundations for success.

Angelo Laskowsky Angelo Laskowsky 2190 Points

Totally agree with you, Tina about the grading schedule! I have a grade sheet glued into their notebooks, along with "reminder pages" about what goes where and why (notes on the right page, homework and other "processing" stuff on the left page of an opened notebook). I put all of the important documents that I need for my class in this notebook and have the students keep their table of contents up to date (i fill in the first few very important pages to give them a headstart). Anyways, you're right that being critical and giving tons of feedback upfront makes the whole process much smoother later on. I have the kids look at each other's notebooks so they can see success. But, I think I'm going to include your idea of putting a hard date on when notebooks will be checked. It'll hlep me plan so they don't need their notebooks while I'm grading them. And, ya, my kids love stamps. I have licorice and grape scented stamp pads and some funky stamps and the kids go crazy for them! It's bizarre. I drew a monkey face on a kid's paper once for fun, and that has become THE mark to get. My kids think that a monkey on their paper means their 5 is somehow better than any of the other 5s they could get. *Shrug* kids are weird.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

I have used interactive notebooks for 21 years and wouldn’t dream of teaching without them. I use the graphing notebooks that look like the ones they use in their Language Arts class, but they have graph paper inside instead of lined paper. The students are able to write in them without difficulties because the lines are there because of the graph lines and the graph paper is available when they need to make a graph of their data. I’ve found these notebooks help those that struggle in their writing because of the additional lines. There are a couple of things I do immediately with the students at the beginning of the year as we set up the notebook. • All pages are numbered on the right hand side (odd numbers) all the way through the notebook. This way they get it done right away and can put correct page numbers in their Table of Contents. • The first page contains a “shrunken” copy of the safety contract to remind them of their responsibilities. • Table of Contents begins on Page 2 – 10, I’ve established 3 columns, Date, Page, Description • Feedback is on pages 11 – 20. I spend hours writing comments in student notebooks in purple – in the past they mostly ignore my comments. So I’ve set up this feedback page where they take my purple writing and summarize its content in the feedback page. This way they have to interact with what I’ve given them in terms of feedback. • I give each student a piece of ribbon that is 5 cm longer than the book and have each student tape it inside the back cover to use as a place marker. I got the idea from my nieces Bible for those of you that need a visual reference. • Every day we set the pages up in Cornell note style, with the date always being the first thing on the page. • Generally students end up with at least two of these notebooks for the year, so I have them give them to me and I use packing tape to tape them together as well as on the inside where the front and back covers meet – I use three, 5 cm pieces of tape, top and both sides together to keep the books from flopping. • Several of my peers use colored duct tape on the binding edge to differentiate between class periods. • Any loose paper that is given out is “strip glued” into their notebook. This means I have them glue only one side of the paper in instead of slathering the glue on the paper. This prevents the glue from being wasted and does not shrivel the paper. I use glue sticks because they are less messy. • As I hand out progress reports, they are required to strip glue them into their notebooks immediately, then have their parents sign them within the notebook. This way parents know where to look for them, and if there is work that is missing, they can search their notebooks for the missing work – they are all the same resource so it eliminates having to hunt for loose papers. No matter what we do, we do it in the graphing notebook. There are notes, lab write ups, diagrams, even handouts, though I use very few of them. There are times I have students create posters separate from the notebook that they put into their notebooks in a variety of ways. I resource I use a lot is Dinah Zike’s “Notebook Foldables (for Spirals, Binders, & Composition Books). Within the book are lots of ideas how to use foldables within the notebook to help students remember concepts. The biggest advantage to using the notebook is not just keeping all of their notes in one place, but they are able to see their growth over time. I have 140 7th and 8th graders, and have less than three of them lose their notebook through the year. They take pride in their work. They begin to see themselves as “smart” as they see how their ideas have progressed through the year. One of our favorites, this includes students as well as me, is to take Page Keeley’s “Uncovering” prompts, scan them into a Word document, then shrink them down so I can get 4 to 8 to a page. Students cut them out, strip glue them in, then respond to the prompt underneath the prompt. They then have an area where they can take notes on the prompt so they can capture the “real answer” along with any questions, thoughts or ideas they may have as they share their ideas with each other. Students have come back year after year and said this notebook has saved them more than once. It becomes their own resource for learning, which makes them take ownership of their learning.

Bianca McRae Bianca McRae 1770 Points

Greetings. KISS - Keep It Sweet and Simple in the beginning. You have to be the one checking it, etc. I would recommend modeling a chapter or unit now so that you have some ideas on what works for you and your students. I find my middle schoolers need immediate and real feedback... There were times when I couldn't get the notebooks back soon enough... I now do not collect them all at once... I only do one class at a time... and I only check for 1-2 specific items or skills at a time. Before I collect them I have each student pair up with a partner and check to make sure all is in order... they each sign the slip... if it is not, the person doing the check loses 5 pts for participation. For scoring, I usually focus on an answer or activity that uses critical thinking... an analysis... a reflection... or, a process skill, like organizing a data table or graphing results. Don't fret... it is the process of collecting and organizing that counts... and there will always be some students that seem to thrive on disorder and chaos... :o}

Caryn Meirs Caryn Meirs 26235 Points

This thread is packed with so much amazing advice!
There are some other notebook discussions going on around the forums _ I hope everyone stops by here as well! In one of the other threads a questions popped up about notebook versus journal - someone might have a similar question here in terms of what makes a notebook 'interactive'. Does anyone have a solid answer for that to use with coworkers - especially when you are trying to talk up notebooks and get everyone using them?

This slideshare helps me explain it when I do not have a notebook in my hands but maybe there are better resources out there?

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I agree with KISS - Keep It Sweet and Simple. I tried the table of contents the first year, and found it ineffective for my students. I also did some research this past year on the use of color on retention etc...and found conflicting research. Some of the research suggested that color would aid in recall, and there was research that also suggested that, especially for high test anxiety students, the use of color can add to testing anxiety and produce negative effects. So I have decided to drop the four color requirement in reflections. I will offer the use of color as a suggestion, but I will not require it as I have in the past. I also agree that it is important to hit the notebooks hard and heavy in the beginning. I do several notebook checks at the beginning of the year - the full "collect and grade" type of checks. Then as the year goes on, I tend to do more walk around and check - using a class rooster to note missing work etc.... Finally, I try to keep a select few notebooks from students at the end of the year. I like having examples for the new students coming in to see first hand. I LOVE using interactive science notebooks. My new goal is to try to find or create a technology based interactive notebook. Suggestions? Thoughts?

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Caryn The slideshare was very helpful! Here is an instructional summary and rubric

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Here are instructions for various foldables and ideas on how to use them.

Caryn Meirs Caryn Meirs 26235 Points

Sue - as usual you and I are on the very same wavelength! I just posted in a different discussion for ideas on using a technology blended model notebook. (and I can never make table of contents work so I use post-its to make chapter markers instead.)

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25635 Points

This is a great thread; even though I am now teaching a pass-fail seminar course rather than a science course, I am thinking of using interactive notebooks. I only see the kids once a cycle so I've realized I need to give them a place to reflect on their projects---a place I can also provide comments back to them. What really struck me is the comment made by Sandy that the notebook is a documentation of student growth over time---they grow so much over the course of the school year and the notebook is a wonderful place to show that growth. Thanks for all the great tips!

Bonnie Patterson Bonnie Patterson 1260 Points

I agree with others that this topic has tons of information that I fully intend to look over. I love my notebooks. It has backed me up with parents tons of times. Also, students don't lose their materials that they need and when they say they have lost this or that paper, I tell them where should it be and they look and find it in their notebooks. It is something that I have to revise with each class but it is till an invaluable resource for my students and I.

Valerie Mateen Valerie Williams 110 Points

Good morning. I have spent the last two days learning about interactive notebooks. I am so excited to start using them this year, but before I do, I need your expertise. For the last four years, I have taught all subjects to only my class of 5th grade students. During the upcoming year, I will teach science and social studies to three groups of 5th grade students. The block is 90 minutes for both subjects. How would you go about teaching these subjects. Would you teach a unit at a time, switch every few weeks, or what? I also have to integrate the new ELA Common Core Standards as well as teach the Georgia Performance Standards for science and social studies. Being new to interactive notebooks, would you begin by having students keep a notebook for only one subject or have a notebook for both subjects?

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

First, Caryn - I love the idea of using sticky notes for chapter markers! I will have the students tape them in, otherwise I can envision them not staying where they should. And I will check out the new discussion thread. Thanks! Valerie and Tina, I agree with Tina - I would run two separate notebooks, one for each subject. However, I would also encourage multidisciplinary units and then have the students only record the information/reflections in one subject's notebook. Have you considered requiring 5 subject notebooks or the use of a binder in place of notebooks? The binder and/or the 5 subject notebook could be divided into two separate sections or even three sections, and students could use the third section for the combined lessons. This could be extended for additional multidisciplinary lessons. Thoughts?

Jenny Hensgen Jenny Hensgen 1375 Points

We have been using Interactive Notebooks in our middle school for the past two years. We did the left side and right side but it has morphed into different things in different subjects. I have seen a huge difference in organization and student engagement with the notebooks in all subject areas. Instead of the left side for student thinking we do something called Box A Thought (BAT) when we want students to make a connection to what they are learning. The teacher has the students stop to BAT and the students will respond in some way, by creating a question, making a drawing, writing a poem or song, making some type of connection to their new information. Students feel they are more organized and understand materials better.

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I really like the "Box A Thought" or BAT idea! It does sound similiar to the left-hand side reflections my students complete, but perhaps a little more on point - at least in the name. When I use the term "reflection" or complete a reflection, sometimes the students are not quite sure what that should look like...and it does take some time to get them used to completing it. How do you explain BAT to your students?

Caryn Meirs Caryn Meirs 26235 Points

I like the BAT idea! I can actually imagine teaching that technique (and in my imagination the SMARTboard at the front of the room is marvelous ;-) I also wanted to add another post it note strategy - this is my interactive notebook absolute rule (I learned it at the NSTA conference in Boston maybe?) I'm sure I've said it before here or in another thread - but I love it so much! Have a color key -Buy small post its in different colors -Make them into a color key for what you will be checking in notebooks (i.e. reflections, data entry, diagram, best AHA!moment) -Allow students to post it their best work for you to look at.

Jenny Hensgen Jenny Hensgen 1375 Points

To help students understand interactive notebooks we do a lot of modeling and examples at the beginning of the year. We explain the BATS are an important way for students to use the new information they are learning and help make it meaningful for them. When we connect with the bat, we hit a homerun by really understanding/applying the information. At our middle school we really think the BAT needs to be directed by the teacher (coach), you are right about kids reflections, sometimes they have nothing to do with the information being learned. I use a lot different techniques; when students are reading I stop them about every 5-7 minutes to have them BAT, my questions vary but are directly related to our goal for the day and the concepts being learned. Sometimes they will do an illustration, cartoon, poem, menomic device to help them remember ideas. one 2 one (one thing you knew, two things you learned, 1 question you have. We always share some (no volunteers, random I pick so everyone needs to be on their game) These are great formative assessments that help the kids learn from each other and me see if the students are ready to move on or need more assistance or time. I have the kids actually box the thought with color so that both of us can locate the BATS later. Like others of you I require numbered pages, dates, and the goal for the day at the top of each new page. I encourage post-it marking the text and other reading/note-taking strategies.

Valerie Mateen Valerie Williams 110 Points

Thank you all for the fantastic ideas regarding science interactive notebooks. My plans are starting to come together, and I can't wait to implement them in August. Please share if you think of anything else. Blessings!

Catherine Borgard Catherine Borgard 320 Points

I use one and it is labor intensive at the start, but it keeps the students very organized. I have my students glue/staple in their syllabus, instructions on how to maintain the notebook, a table of contents, and the unit outline. They keep their notes, worksheets, etc, all in the notebook. This is all on the righthand pages ad the lefthand pages have to explain what they learned on the other side OR I give homework on that side that relates to say the notes. Example: took notes on ecosystem on the right side and now go home and draw an ecosystem that exists where you live as homework (insects in the house count too). Oh, and my have to be big, bright and in at least 4 different colors - all those multiple intelligences don't ya' know. I was just talking about this at lunch with a teacher thinking about this and she is just going to do notes, labs, and major stuff to start with. She just wants to get her feet wet with it. Make it work for you:)

Anna Crisostomo Anna Crisostomo 270 Points

I have a question for anyone... Last year I tried the whole notebook binder thing, I created the table of contents and had students number pages, and put everything in, etc. However, I just could not get the students to keep their notebooks up to date, many would lose their notebooks, and worse yet, because they were limited in paper, they would rip pages out for blank paper usage. Any ideas? I used the comp notebooks my previous years but stored them in my classroom, it helped to keep them long term, but defeated the point of having it for studying. I liked the comp books for the purpose of not breaking so easily like spirals, but still each one had an issue. I tried to implement folders that were kept in class for materials to use long term and their notebooks to go home with notes etc. That worked somewhat but again I have not found a wonderful solution. I am very open to suggestions.

Laura Maricle Laura Maricle 1745 Points

I use composition notebooks with my 5 th graders. I was apprehensive about them taking them home, but soon let go and let them go home. Out of 97 students I may have hand no more than a handful forget to bring them to class and not one was lost.

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