Interactive notebooks have been around a long time. I looked but could not find an exact date when they first hit the scene.
So What ARE These Things?
The concept behind interactive notebooks it that they are used as a notetaking strategy to help student understand new concepts and then synthesize or generalize the concepts. One side is referenced as input (basically the teaching) and the other side is output (the student responses).
Some of the research that I found to support interactive notebooks relates to Garner’s Theory of Multiple intelligences. Basically, the notebook provides students several opportunities to use several of the intelligences (visual, kinesthetic, linguistic, etc.).
Is This Developmentally Appropriate for Primary Students?
I think in a more simplified form: yes, kinda.
I do not think it is appropriate for K-1 because generally speaking most kindergartners and first graders don’t have the writing skills to attend to a lesson and then record. I do think second graders can easily do this, and some first graders toward the end of the year. This really is up to each individual class.
What Could Input Side Look Like?
So, if you DO want to use the input section- what can it be? It could be a graphic organizer that is filled out together with the teacher about a read aloud. It could be as simple as a hundreds chart that student’s reference and utilize during a math lesson. It could be a visual that students can label. It can even be a, gasp, worksheet that is used for instruction!
I have several ELA graphic organizers in this pack. These are perfect to glue in during a reading lesson and complete together. Students can then complete the same graphic organizer as output, just using a different text!
The input/ note taking side could be cloze notes. My Interactive Notebook and MORE! Math series has PowerPoint lessons with matching cloze notes. Students can follow along with the PowerPoint and fill in the notes to reference later. Then students can complete a simple flip flap book to practice the skill taught.
What Could Output Side Look Like?
This is basically the student’s time to respond and apply the lesson. This could be simply drawing a picture and writing a sentence using a vocabulary word. It could be a sort students can cut and paste on the page. It could be create a web of all the information they have learned about Jackie Robinson.
I have several different interactive notebook packs of fun and hands on activities that can be used for the output side of your interactive notebooks, or can be used as a collection and “yearbook of learning / portfolio.” Many of these activities are cut and paste sorts or some kind of flip flap book.
Technically, if students are only completing some kind of flip flap book, it truly isn’t an interactive notebook. That would only contain the output and it would be more a collection of activities. Is there anything wrong with this? Not in my opinion. The activities are still engaging and hands on and can practice a variety of skills in a variety of formats. It is up to you!
I have several different interactive notebook packs of fun and hands on activities that can be used for the output side of your interactive notebooks, or can be used as a collection and “yearbook of learning / portfolio.” These are ALSO leveled to allow for easy differentiation!
How do you use interactive notebooks in YOUR classroom?
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught Kindergarten- 4th grades in both the general education and inclusion settings. She is currently a 1st grade Special Education teacher. She is the owner and creator of Mandy’s Tips for Teachers website (www.mandystipsforteachers.com) and has over 13 years of teaching experience. She is married with two beautiful children.