Sunday, September 6, 2015

Interactive Student Notebook - Introduction

School has officially started and I completely forgot to put up pictures of my new classroom.  I must say that I am in love with my classroom and hopefully I will get time to place pictures up throughout the year.  I want to go over my student notebooks that I have been creating with my students.  None of my students this year have completed an interactive student notebook (ISN).  I am so excited to introduce the students to this new concept and see how it does with their overall grades and critical thinking skills.  After a week of setting up the notebook and having our first math class, the students have already showed and displayed an excitement for math!  So I will post pictures of how I set-up my math notebook.  Feel free to leave comments below!

Day 2:
   On the second day of school, I had the students begin setting up their homework.  Day 1 is focused more on different ice breaker activities and going over classroom procedures and expectations.  Everything posted below for day 2 was able to be complete within 42 minutes of class.  I did pre-cut as much as I could to help save time.  I am noticing that the kids are not used to cutting and gluing so I am doing my best to pre-cut as much as I can to help save time.
This describes the ISN to my students and to the parents that check their math notebooks.  After the small description of the purpose of the notebook, I give the students a small copy of how the notebook is set-up.  I have this same exact set-up on my math bulletin board for all to see for the first quarter of school.  Each day I review with them that they must open up to the table of contents (TOC), place in the date, topic, and pages and then open up to that page and place their date, section, title, and objective.  This is going to take a while for the students to get used to, but I think with time, it will become habit.

In addition, I state the rules of the notebook and what I expect from them.  I love rule #3:  NO DOODLING!  I told them that they are allowed to doodle in any other notebook other than math.  Of course I told them it was our secret and that they should not tell any other teacher that they can do this.  :)

The students then open up to the table of contents.  I have them use their ruler and we set up the first page together.  Then I give them no more than 6 minutes to set up three more pages so that they have a total of four TOC pages.  Of course, they should not need this many but I would rather be safe than sorry.  The date goes in the first column followed by the topic and the page numbers.  We skipped the very first page across from our cover and will get to that the second week so they can create their covers.  It will be a homework assignment I will check Friday.

After the table of contents, I take the next two pages to set-up their grade books.  The first grade sheet they get is the one I use to grade their ISN's.  I plan on checking their ISN's along with their peers more during the first quarter.  This is to check up on each of them to make sure they are completing everything correctly.  The second grade sheet is their quarterly grades; tests, quizzes, homework, ISN checks.  It is a great way for the students to stay up-to-date with their current grade in class.  I will then have them attach a new one each quarter.

Day 3:

For homework on the second day of school, I have the students set three math goals that they would like to achieve by the end of the year.  I then have them create a 3-4 sentence plan on how they will create these goals.  It can be something as easy as staying organized, to maintaining at 94% or higher in class.  I review them at the beginning of day 3 and then we create our Group Work Roles which I sell at my TPT Store.  We fold, glue, label, and go over each role.  I then place them in groups and read them the story of "Mr. Peabody's Apples."  It is a great book for teenagers that talks about rumors and how impossible it is to take them back.  They work in groups, using their roles and job descriptions to answer questions about the book as I read through it.  This takes up most/all of the class.  However, the students enjoy a good picture book and learn a very important moral in class.

Day 4:

Today we finally get into some math.  On day four, I go over with them the four major steps of solving word problems.  We create this foldable and use a chart that I was introduced to during my masters classes at Drexel.  This is the first time the students had to get used to going to their table of contents, filling it in, and then going to the next blank page and filling it out correctly.  Some of the students did it right away while other ones struggled to remember what had to go on the page.  It was a great learning process which I hope they find easier as the second week of school approaches closer.  We created this foldable and filled in the following steps.

1. State what you know (noticings)
2. State the question(s) (wonderings)
3. Solve (show all work and writing in words your thinking)
4. State the answer (include a unit/label)

The students have not solved word problems like this before and found the chart silly to use in our first example because it was a simple math problem.  As we continued through the word problems, the students found the chart easier to use and more helpful when solving the problem.  I am excited to see how they did with the three math problems I gave them for homework.

I have already started putting together the notebooks for each class with the different folables that we are going to do for the next two weeks.  I think the hardest thing is going to keep my four notebooks (one for each leveled class) up-to-date with the students.  Do any teachers have any suggestions or tips that can help me keep my notebook up-to-date with the students?

I hope everyone had a wonderful week back to school and I cannot wait to hear more about them!


  1. Great post! I like your 4 steps for problem solving. I would also be interested in tips for keeping up with different levels of notebooks as I have not felt very successful with this in the past.

  2. This is the first time that I am going to keep my own notebook. What I noticed so far that works best is creating the pages over the weekend for the next week lesson. The only worry I have would be if I have to add an extra lesson in case the class does not understand something. By adding another lesson it messes up the table of contents, page numbering, and inserting another foldable activity!