Thursday, July 11, 2013

Interactive Notebooks - Two Perspectives

This week, my good friend and former (it feels so gosh darn sad to say that) teaching partner went to CAMT in San Antonio, TX. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it stands for Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching. It may sound boring--but let me tell you, it is FAB-U-LOUS! The speakers are a wonderful mixture of classroom teachers, specialists, vendor representatives, and out of state gurus. Case in point, the opening speaker on Wednesday morning was none other than the amazing and quite hilarious Dan Meyer. If you have no idea who that is, you can find out more about him here (but hurry back to finish reading!)

I felt all rejuvenated after listening to him speak about adding "perplexity" into our math problems and couldn't wait to get to our other sessions that we had lined up for the day. 




I was most excited to attend Jennifer Smith-Sloane's (many of you will know her as 4mulaFun!) session about how she uses and set sup her interactive notebooks in her middle school math classroom! I really wish that I had taken more pictures, but in all honesty I was so engaged that I forgot! I did take this picture (seen above) when I got back to the hotel with all the goodies we received! The most important thing we received was a Five Star 1-subject spiral notebook from the good folks at Mead - for free! They donated over 200 of these because they knew they were going to teachers! How nice is that? It's those acts of kindness that restore my faith in our society!

Anyhow, she had some really good ideas that I hope I remember to implement in August! Some of the things I was already doing...so that's always validating! My biggest takeaway from this session is this: In order for the students to take ownership of their notebooks, they need to be theirs. This means a few things to me. Number 1, the kids don't necessarily need to be on the same page as I am all the time so long as they are in the right order and they are keeping track of the pages for themselves on the table of contents (and for me when I grade them). Number 2, having a rubric to grade is important. Students need to know what they will be graded on and what each portion is worth. Number 3, there is not one right way to set up an interactive notebook. This statement was incredibly refreshing to me as I am always wondering if I am doing something right. I love that I can do things that will work in my classroom. Last, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I was "that" teacher who kept the math journals in the classroom last year. I allowed them to take them home so long as they returned with them the next day, but really, I should have encouraged them to take them home more often. I guess I thought I was compensating for that by posting the day's notes or activities on Edmodo, but those were my notes, not their notes. I still think it is good to post for those who didn't get finished writing or those who were absent, but I want to encourage my kiddos to take them home and use them for homework help this year--and hey, this means I have 6 free baskets for new school supplies :)

If you are wondering about 4mulaFun's flippables as shown in the picture above, visit her TPT store here. Buy the whole template pack...you SO won't regret it!

After that session, I went around the corner to another INB session and was excited to hear what a pair of teachers from College Station ISD had to say about how they used INB in their math classes. They totally reminded me of my former teaching partner and I and how we interact with each other. Anyhow, I remembered to take more pictures this time, so I will let the pictures guide the way :)

LOVED this idea! Punch a hole in the back of the composition notebook and loop a large rubber band through (7"), then you have something to keep the notebook together when it is so fat by the end of the year! The only problem that I foresee is that kids will shoot things across the rooms...so it will just have to be an expectation that I set in my classroom. Still love the idea!

Also, you might notice the tabs on the right side! These teachers had printed out tabs of the units at the beginning of the year and gave them to the kids on one sheet. The kids would put them where it was appropriate in their notebook at the beginning of a unit. Jennifer from the session before had a lot of great ideas for this as well.


Next came the inside front cover. This is VERY similar to the "Work in Progress" pocket that Jennifer gave us, but a little sturdier (and more costly!) This is a manila envelope with the top tab cut off and cut open down the right side. It is glued to the notebook and it is a way for kids to place work that is not ready to be glued into their notebook. I love the rules that are pasted on top! This year, I had rules that I printed off and we pasted those on the inside front cover as well, so this is similar. 

I am kind of torn on this part. The teacher presenting this session said that she saw a few years ago that the kids would get hung up on filling in the table of contents and not be working on the "math." So, her solution was to pre-print off the topics for each unit and leave open the date and page number columns for students to fill in. I totally get that. However, I think students need to be responsible and take ownership of their table of contents so that THEY refer back to it! Also, it kind of stresses me out to pre-print these since at least once a week I think of something that I want to add to the notebooks that I didn't think of before. Just my two cents--do what works for you and your class!

I LOVED this 2-page spread. On the left side, it is this particular district's cheating policy so that all students are in the know. A copy also goes home, posted on websites, is on a poster in every room, etc. On the right side is a syllabus for the year. Another epic discovery. I don't remember getting a syllabus prior to high school. Yes, I got a "welcome to ___th grade" letter with a supply list and how to organize my 27 dividers in my 3-inch binder, but never a syllabus outlining the expectations for that course. I send one home, but it is really geared more toward parents than students. I want to do a better job of that in the fall and then have them paste it in for a quick reference.


Look at all the fun stuff I got! Can't wait to add these to my collection of foldables/flipbooks from last year and keep adding to the catalog. I get super excited over things on colored paper...I just love it.

Now, you may have noticed that Jennifer uses spiral notebooks and the other session uses composition notebooks. This past year, I used composition notebooks because I thought that was "the way you did interactive notebooks." Well, it is one way, but there are pros and cons. The main pros for me was that is was all bound together and students were MUCH less likely to tear a sheet out of it to use for scratch paper. The cons are the size. It is smaller than a normal 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, so you can't fit as much information on a page. I am strongly considering moving to spiral notebooks for this reason. I LOVE that the pages are bigger and I can fit more "meat" on the page. I am concerned that students will buy they cheap notebooks that fall apart. The ones that Mead so generously provided for us were AWESOME and will certainly put those on the supply list, but I cannot control what parents buy, unfortunately! 

I hope to have another post after the school year starts as a follow up to how it all is going! If you made it to the end of this post...you are awesome! After re-reading this, I realize just how long it is, and I apologize--my posts aren't usually this long!

How do you set up interactive notebooks in your class?




19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad this is helpful...I made the mistake of packing my copies of the interactive notebooks I kept in my classes this past year, but as soon as I unpack in my new classroom I will do a blog post about the different things that I did...stay tuned!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for posting these ideas! I absolutely LOVE interactive notebooking in my junior high class. Starting them was the best decision I ever made!

    I use the rubber band idea, have a pocket, include a syllabus, etc. Great minds, huh? ha!

    Please stop by my blog sometime and leave me comments with your great insights!

    Jessie
    MrsHester.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great minds for sure! Will check out your blog :)

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the great ideas on how to use Math notebooks. I'm wanting to start using them this year & this gave me some ideas about the details of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim, you will LOVE it! If you have any questions or would like more explanation about any topic in particular, let me know and I will blog about it!

      Delete
  4. what a fantastic post about CAMT!!! Both of your sessions sounds awesome!!!
    I am definitely incorporating the work in progress pocket.
    I am trying binders this year. I feel like I am really going out on a limb, but I want to try it.
    Fingers crossed!

    Elizabeth
    Hodges Herald

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girl, you are BRAVE! I'm so curious to find out how your binders work for you. There was another teacher in a session this morning that uses binders and loves it. Just read your guest post on Jennifer's blog and am not off to check yours out!

      Delete
  5. Awesome post!! I will be using INB this year too. Looking forward to your future posts on this topic.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Christine :)
    Math Central

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing, Danielle. I am going to use INBs for the first time this year and am planning to use spiral notebooks. I'm very interested to see how the binders work out for you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is marvelous! Thank you for posting. I am looping with my class to teach third grade next year and I'm trying to up the expectations when it comes to mathematical recording. I love the idea of the preprinted table of contents and totally understand your concern about adding more things to the book that aren't listed in the TC. Last year we used Science Notebooks and I gave my students a blank TC to fill in. That was so stressful because it took second graders quite a while to fill in. I think I'll give the preprinted TC a try.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post!
    I love the rubber band notebook closure idea!
    I am going to start using interactive notebooks in my classroom for the first time this year, so the info in this post gave me a lot of good ideas to get set up!

    Dawn
    Hello Learning!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so excited to start using interactive notebooks! I just got hired as a fourth grade teacher in a private school (my first classroom! -- No more subbing!) and my school is BIG on math with the switch to common core (They have a common core plus, so it adds a little more). I really think that this is going to help my students learn and it might just impress some administrators who will probably be keeping an eye on the new teacher! Thank you so much for the great info! :) You have no idea who appreciative a new teacher really is for all this valuable info! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love all the ideas. I am new to 3rd grade and want to use interactive math notebooks. I got great ideas here!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love using the graphing notebooks for my INB. It helps students line up numbers, write neatly, draw number lines, arrays, area/perimeter figures...you get the picture. I tried them last year and they were great. The spiral bound notebooks from Staples have a little larger "squares" than most composition graphing notebooks. Hope this helps someone!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I use an interactive notebook all year. I have the students get a 3-sublect spiral notebook and cover the whole thing in duct tape (any kind they like). It holds together all year and they take ownership of their notes. many of my students even take them along to high school.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am torn between binders and spirals. With 4 spirals for 4 subjects that seems like a lot to keep track of for each subject. For binders it's all in one place but tends to get messy with kids getting confused with dividers. Any thoughts on this dilemma?

    ReplyDelete