Math = Love: Interactive Notebook Q & A #1

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interactive Notebook Q & A #1

I hope you guys are all enjoying your summers!  My summer is coming quickly to an end.  I have to report to work on August 7th, and I will have students in my classroom on August 8th.  Seeing as tomorrow marks the end of July, I do not have long.  I'm excited to go back.  I've been missing my students.  One of the perks of working in a small school is that I will still get to interact regularly with my students even if I they aren't in my math class this year.  The other math teacher's classroom is right across the hall from mine, so I will still see them every day.  I can't wait to see their faces when they realize how much algebra they are going to get to use in geometry!  

Now, what I haven't done a lot of (or any of) this summer is lesson plans.  So, the next week is going to be spent mapping out, in detail, at least the first full unit for each of my three preps - Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and (AP?) Statistics. 

This summer, I've focused a lot on learning.  16 days of my summer have been spent at conferences.  I've learned a ton about the Common Core State Standards, teaching Pre-AP Math, teaching AP Statistics, and just teaching in general.  In a way, it's kind of been information overload.  I've learned about using Socrative, Edmodo, Fathom, and TI-Nspire calculators in my classroom.  I've learned about how to teach math using M&M's, Barbie Dolls, Tennis Balls, Racquet Balls, Fruit Loops, Nerf Guns, pieces of rope, and other everyday items.  I haven't found the time to process most of this new information this summer via my blog, and I regret that.  A lot of my blogging is for me.  If I don't blog about something, odds are I will forget about it.  

I am still amazed today that others find my ramblings useful.  With one year of teaching under my belt, I don't feel like I'm anywhere near having this teaching thing figured out.  And, I'm not sure I will ever get it figured out.  There will always be more to learn, and I don't think I would have it any other way.  Over the past few months, I've found lots of questions in my inbox regarding interactive notebooks.  Actually, I think searching for information on interactive notebooks is the way most people find my blog.  And, you can thank @druinok for that.  She kinda made me promise to post lots of pictures of my interactive notebook pages.  

So, I thought I should share some of the questions and my answers here in case they were of interest to anybody else.  If you have other questions, please leave a comment or click the tab at the top of the page that says "Contact Me."  And, when I finally get around to answering the rest of the e-mails that are languishing in my inbox, I'll have another post full of tips for you!  (Hopefully this post will motivate me to tackle the rest of my inbox!)

Interactive Notebook Q & A

Question
I am going to use interactive notebooks this year and really love what you've done, but I teach geometry, so I was wondering if you knew anyone, or worked with anyone who has a blog, with as much material and ideas, but in regards to geometry..

Answer
Off the top of my head, I would recommend checking out a blog called Journal Wizard for geometry interactive notebook resources. I've seen SO MANY amazing geometry ideas there lately.  You also might want to check out Everybody is a Genius for other interactive notebook resources! 
I've tried to collect all of my Geometry findings on this pinterest board in case I ever find myself teaching Geometry.  From my pins, it looks like there are quite a few blogs that may feature some Geometry foldables and activities.  

Question
I have been reading it for the past couple of weeks getting ideas for INB's. I'm super excited about using them in my Algebra 2 classes next year and I'm trying to get a head start on planning.

I see that you use a composition book for your notebooks. How many did you have to use in your Algebra 2 class, or was one composition book enough? I'm new to the INB's and I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row :)

Answer
One composition notebook was enough for both my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 classes.  I think the number of notebooks needed depends on exactly what you put in the notebook.  I only have my students put notes in their notebook.  Other teachers have them do their bellwork and homework in the notebook as well.  That takes up a lot more pages.  I can see benefits to that approach, but I prefer to reserve our notebook pages for notes.  My students know that if something is going in our notebook, it must be important.  They have a tendency to remember exactly where they have written everything in their notebook, and they can flip to the needed information in just a few seconds.  

Question
I have recently been encouraged to do interactive notebooks with my students but I'm not sure how they work and where to start. Do you have any helpful advice for me? I am very interested from your slope posts as to how helpful this would be for my students!

Answer
I would start off by determining what the most important things you want your students to learn from your math course are.  Can you turn this information into a graphic organizer or foldable? 
Or, can you give the information to your students in note form and have them transform it into a drawing, flow chart, or other sort of representation?   
With my Algebra students, I try to have them create one interactive notebook page per lesson.  Some lessons are finished in a day and some span a week.  I have seen other teachers who have their students create notebook pages every day.  Others might only do a page or two per chapter.  Megan Hayes-Golding has created a sort of interactive notebook home page that contains links to lots of informative posts on interactive notebooks.  I think this would be a great starting place.   
When I decided to implement notebooks last summer, the best thing I did was to set down with my textbook and a old, partially used composition notebook.  Without really knowing what I was doing, I just started creating pages.  There is a definite learning curve, and a lot of the pages I did with my students looked nothing like those first drafts of pages I created during the summer.  There are tons of ideas on the internet, and I can't tell you how many pages have been either stolen from or inspired by things I found on the internet. 

Question
Do you have any suggestions for school supplies that the students will need to bring with them?

Answer
The only supplies that I required my students to bring last year were a composition notebook and something to write with.  I provided my students with colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks, markers, tape, notebook paper, graph paper, calculators, rulers, and anything else they needed.  One of the reasons I provide so many of my students' supplies is that I teach in a high poverty area.  In many schools, these items would probably be provided by the students.  

Question
Love your math notebooks. Which do you prefer, composition books or binders? I have done the Notebooks for science and social studies both ways but this year I'm doing one for math also.

Answer
I prefer for my students to use composition notebooks.  I find that my students are more likely to keep up with a composition notebook than a binder and less likely to steal paper from it for other classes since it is bound.  I had several students last year who did use a binder, and that was perfectly fine.  I let them choose whatever worked best for them.  I also had one class of students that used spiral notebooks instead of the composition notebook.  
If your students are already used to carrying a binder, that may be the way to go.  That isn't the case in my school.  And, I have many students who end up leaving their notebooks in my classroom.  The notebooks take up much less space than binders would.  I guess there are tons of variables to consider!  

Question
Did you give your students written instructions on how to set up the interactive notebook? If so, could you post it?

Answer
I didn't give my students written instructions to set up their notebooks.  At the beginning of the school year, I would model how I wanted something done and then give them time to complete it in class.  We spent one entire class period creating our cover page, gluing in the syllabus, and making the table of contents.  I did include some limited information about their interactive notebooks in the syllabus.

Question
I am always looking for ways to make students fall in love with my "love".  I am very interested in your interactive notebook. Would you please let me in on your tips?  I noticed that you use composition notebooks.  Do you pre print the notes and have them cut and paste into their notebook?  Are they glued in with something like glue sticks?  How time consuming is it?  For you and the students? (for me ....because I currently have 6 different preps) Were the students already used to this type of notebook?  (I just think it's the coolest thing.)

Answer
Composition notebooks are great.  The pages are bound and cannot be easily torn out.  Spiral notebooks provide more space to write, but their pages can be torn out much more easily.  I had several students move in from another teacher's class that ended up using spiral notebooks.  I think either can work great.  I pre-print the notes and have my students glue them in their notebooks.  We use glue sticks, but many other teachers prefer to use scotch tape.  I invested in several dozen of those gigantic glue sticks, and they seemed to work quite well.  I'll be honest.  It's time consuming.  I'm pretty sure that my students are the slowest cutters and gluers in the world.  But, my students use their notebooks all the time, so it's a price I'm willing to pay.  I spent a lot of time preparing stuff for the interactive notebooks last year.  I worked late many nights, but it was also my first year of teaching.  So, I would have probably been working late whether I was doing interactive notebooks or not.  As the year went on, my students became faster at putting things in their notebook, and I became faster at creating notebook pages.  I can't imagine having six preps, and I applaud you for that.  I have three preps, but I only used the notebooks with two of those preps.  My other class got really jealous, though, when they found out that the other classes got to do "arts and crafts."  My students were not used to interactive notebooks.  This was a new experience for all of us.  I did have a student move in part of the way through the year, and he brought his interactive notebook from his old school with him.  It was pretty cool!

10 comments:

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  2. thanks for the advice sarah! i'm thinking of starting an interactive notebook this coming term. When you say you modelled to your students how to create pages - did you show them your pre-created notebook and get them to "copy" it or did you create a new notebook along with them (based on one you had created in advance)? Also, when you say you create one page per day - do you give regular notes often or is every page created into an organiser/foldable? Also, would you create the notebook page and then do the math or would you show them how to do the math & then create the notebook page based on the newly acquired knowledge they'll have gotten? sorry for all the extra/new questions!!!

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    1. I create one copy of the notebook for myself. To model the notebook pages to my students, I create Smart Board versions of the foldables and graphic organizers my students are creating. So, I will write or draw on the Smart Board what my students should write or draw in their notebook.

      I try to make as many graphic organizers and foldables as possible, but some days we do just complete regular notes in our notebooks. But, we only take notes in our notebook. I want my students' interactive notebooks to be their one source of information for the class.

      I've tried both ways. Sometimes I will explain a process to my students, we will practice it, and then we will put it in our notebooks. Other times we will put it in our notebooks before we I explain it and we practice it. Several times, I have given my students the option. Would you rather take notes first and then practice or practice and then take notes.

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    2. Thanks Sarah!! Great help! Love your blog - wish I was as creative as you. Your an inspiration :)

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  3. Welcome to Year Two! I'm starting my second year, too, so glad to have that first one behind. This year I'm planning to go interactive notebook crazy, so finding your blog has been so great!

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  4. I did Interactive Notebooks this past school year for my Algebra 1 and Geometry class. This year I will have Algebra 2 as well and plan on doing it in that class as well. I do blog about the pages that I have created as well as activities I've made. I do teach special education students, but I use the General Education curriculum so the pages could work for anyone. I follow you on twitter, and love your tweets!

    @anyaostapczuk

    http://teachinginspecialeducation.blogspot.com

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  5. Do you use Interactive Notebooks in your STAT class?

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    1. I planned to this year, but it didn't happen. It was a new prep for me, and I got a tad overwhelmed. I missed doing notebooks with these students, though. And, I think they missed the notebooks, too. Next year, I'm teaching trig/pre-calculus instead of stats, and I'm definitely going to go back to having a notebook!

      If you're looking for someone who does INBs with stats, you absolutely must check out this blog: http://statteacher.blogspot.com/

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  6. I'm pretty committed to doing INB in my Algebra 1 classes next year. I agree with you - they should be a reference for students. I want them to find them useful because isn't that the point of notes?! My question is with that in mind, do you have the students keep the notebooks in your classroom so they don't get lost or do the students take them home so they can reference them as they do their homework? There's so much to consider when thinking about implementing this!

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    1. Hey Rachel!

      When I first started with interactive notebooks, I assumed my students would bring them to class with them each day. This would allow them to use them at home while working on assignments. I quickly found out that many of my students needed a place in my classroom to keep their notebook. Otherwise, the notebook would quickly get lost and never seen again!

      This year, I assigned a filing cabinet drawer to my Algebra 1 students and a separate drawer to my Algebra 2 students. Students have the option. Keep up with your own notebook. Or, store it in your class' drawer. Some students always keep their own notebook. Others always leave it in my classroom. Some will leave it in my classroom unless they know they have homework that night. This has alleviated a lot of headaches. It's definitely not a perfect system though.

      You're right. There is a ton to consider with starting notebooks! I feel like I've learned a lot of lessons the hard way.

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