Decision Made: You Are Going to Use Interactive Notebooks
Once the decision is made to use Interactive Notebooks there will be many more decisions to follow. However, these decisions won’t be as important as the decision to begin using them. Let’s begin with the decisions on “What is Needed for an Interactive Notebook?”
What is Needed For an Interactive Notebook?
The kind and type of notebooks is clearly up to you. How you manage your classroom and what works best for you is how you need to make your decision. Grade level plays a very important role in the decision making process. The following is a list of things to keep in mind when deciding:
- Grade Level- the younger the child the more wear and tear on the notebook, even if it not moving from room to room. Sewn and Cloth bound composition books might be best
- Subject vs. Unit- will you be using the notebook just to do a unit at a time or will you use the notebook for the whole year for the subject? If it is just a unit, the one subject spiral notebooks may be acceptable. I have used one subject notebooks for each marking period putting Science in the front (one unit) and Social Studies ( one unit) towards the back. I always liked sending home the marking period units so the parents could see the progress the students were making. The other notebooks went home regularly (composition).
- Will you even need a notebook? Can you just use paper bound together in a binder or stapled. Depending on your wants and needs for the project. Maybe you just want to use folders with pockets. It is your decision.
The “Staples” of Interactive Notebooks
Scissors– I always liked to have a point at the end of the scissors no matter what age child I worked with. If it was with very young children, I had a special collection of special pointy scissors that only came out when we were notebooking. Otherwise, the children were all equipped with pointy scissors.
Glue Sticks– My school district always supplied glue sticks. I guess I was lucky that way. However, if your district does not, be ever vigilant on the back to school sales. There are crazy sales then so you can stock up. Perhaps you can ask parents to help. A little tutorial on showing student how to glue would help. You need to show them to glue the piece of paper that you are placing on another. Don’t put glue on the large piece. This could save a lot of glue. The saying “A little dab will do ya!” helps too.
Tape– Clear adhesive tape- Sometimes there are mistakes. I make many of them. I always had two or three of the tape dispensers available so there is not just one long line of children waiting. What a waste of time. Many times tape is needed for a fold or to complete the mini book. So tape is needed. Masking tape can be used for some projects, so keep some on hand. Washi tape can be used to pretty up their notebooks when it is time to grade them. If some students finish early, they may want to spend some time decorating. They can bring their own in for that!
Pencils– I always have my students use pencil when completing their foldables and mini books. You can certainly erase pencil marks. Their hands are not steady enough for pen.
Colored Pencils– I have always provided colored pencils for coloring in their notebooks. My school district provided them. Even before they did, I bought them at the back to school sales and got some good deals. I bought the hand pencil sharpeners, too. You really shouldn’t sharpen the colored pencils in a hand crank or electric pencil sharpener. They are too waxy and will clog them. So, the students should sharpen them with the hand sharpeners.
Markers– I never allowed the students to use markers. I didn’t like how they bled through the paper of the notebook. I allowed them to use the notebooks on the covers, they were too thick, and the ink didn’t bleed through. This is your decision. I wanted to be able to read what they wrote in the foldable or mini book, not see the ink from markers.
Crayons– Crayons are a must. I would replace their crayons monthly we used them so much. I would dump out the old into an old bin and hand out the new boxes. That way if they lost a color they could look in the old bin and find one. A good trick for correcting papers- have everyone take out a yellow, orange or light pink crayon and color over their answers. Once they color over their answers they become very difficult to erase and change. You can certainly see that it was altered. I love crayons.
Rulers are a must- not for measuring in the notebooks, but for folding. Sometimes the folds need to be straight. The children use their ruler, place it along the solid line and hold it with one hand, or ask a neighbor to help, and fold with the other on along the ruler. It gives a great straight fold.
Just a couple of more decisions affecting Interactive Notebooks you will need to think about before you begin. It may involve purchasing items you will need.
Close your eyes. Imagine your first time making a foldable with your class. Go through each step of the way.
- Where will their notebooks be when you begin?
- Where are their supplies kept?
- How will they clean up at the end?
- Where will they store their notebooks?
These questions will need to be answered before you begin. If you want to store their notebooks in the classroom, you will need to find a place to store them. On a shelf? In a closet? In a file drawer? In a file crate?
Will the students have all the supplies at their desks already? Will you have supply baskets for each group? Will you have supply baskets for each product and allow them to come and get their own and return them at the end? You will need to purchase bins or boxes accordingly.
Clean up is always a little chaotic, but a thoughtful process will help. Little garbage bags at each group will alleviate a lot of movement. Having the students hold onto their throw aways until the end helps too. Choosing helpers to collect will keep the traffic flow to a minimum.
Are you storing the notebooks when they are completed for the day. Many times I had them keep them in their desks. We used them everyday so they needed to get to them. Yes, they got worn and torn. It was a fact of my classroom. I then decided I could let them keep them in their cubbies. It worked.
Once the decision is made to use Interactive Notebooks there will be many more decisions to follow. However, these decisions won't be as important as the decision to begin using them. Let's begin with the decisions on "What is Needed for an Interactive Notebook?" The kind and type of notebooks is clearly up to you. [...]