The Question:I am hopeful you'd be willing to share with me how to get started with the INBs. We operate on an A/B day schedule with 80 minute periods. I am reluctant to devote so much time to this process, especially when it sometimes takes more than 1 period to complete the fold-able for a given topic. Honestly, I am not really even sure about INBs, but I am desperate for an engaging stepping stone to collaborative groups. Any thoughts you'd be willing to share will be considered helpful!
INBs do take a lot of time and effort. Here's my advice for spending time more wisely in class.
Prep, Prep, Prep!
Have students do as much prepwork before class begins as possible. When students enter the classroom, a list of supplies should be posted. Expect students to have all of the needed supplies out BEFORE the bell rings.
Here's an example of one day's supply list. I project this on the SMARTboard at the beginning of each period. I used to assume that students would just be able to read my mind and get out the necessary supplies. Students like it better this way. I like it better this way. If I have students get out a supply we don't end up using, they call me out on it. They also call me out if I forget to put something on the supply list for the day. If you don't have a SMARTBoard or IWB, this list could also be written on the dry erase board.
Some teachers have tables set up for students to grab handouts and foldable templates when they enter the classroom. Then, students can start the process of cutting and folding sooner. I haven't found a way to make this work with my classroom set-up. Yet.
Decide What's Worth It
I alternate between all three types of notes throughout the year. Here are a few examples:
Example of Fill-in-the-blank Notes
Example of Completely Hand-Written Notes:
Example of Pre-Printed Notes:
Some days, I will start by expecting students to write out notes by hand. After having it take longer than intended during first hour, I will type up the notes and print them for my later classes. Always ask yourself - is this worth it?
Remember - You Can Make Things Worth It
Interactive notebooks do take more time. If kids are taking notes and never looking at them again, I think the notebooks are a waste of time. Save yourself and your students a major hassle and use a textbook. Most kids aren't naturally going to turn to their notebooks for help. They're going to turn to you. It's hard, but I have to force myself to not answer questions that can be found in my students' notebooks. The kids accuse me of being mean and probably call me all sorts of nasty names behind my back for this, but I really do think it helps my students.
When I start forcing students to use their notebooks, they start taking better notes. If I ask a question that no one in the class can answer, I make the entire class turn to the appropriate page in their notebook. No exceptions. I have to sell my students on the notebooks, and the only way I've found to do that is to make them use them.
So, making foldables and filling out graphic organizers is more time consuming. But, I feel that I can redeem that time by making my classroom a place where students reference their notebooks regularly.
Set a Timer
When I give my students a notebook task to do, they can easily stretch it to take three times longer than I intended. Cutting things out is the worst because they seem to talk to their neighbors way more than they are actually cutting. To combat this, I decide how long it should take students to complete a task. If it's a one minute task, I set a timer for a minute and a half. If it's a two minute task, I set a timer for three minutes. Usually, I try to allow 1.5 times the amount I *think* it should take. Inform students that as soon as the timer goes off, you will be moving on whether they are ready or not. My kids hate this, but it really does help to keep them (and me!) on focus.
Don't Give Up
Keep at it. Notebooks may be rough for a while. Please don't give up. Tweak things. Try something new. Don't feel like you have to have a perfect notebook page every day. Not every notebook page is Pinterest-worthy. My notebooks get better and better each year. I'm still learning. My students who are on their second or third notebook with me are helping me to get better. They give me advice on what works best for them. Listen to this feedback. Give your students the opportunity to share feedback about the notebooks. There isn't such a thing as a perfect notebook, but we can all strive to make our notes better and better.