Change It Up with Interactive Notebooks

By: Chris Schwab

Interactive notebooks are a particularly effective kind of note taking, a way for kids to organize information so that it makes sense to them. Because so many kids are visual learners, interactive notebooks can be a very successful learning tool. Students don’t have to take handwritten notes or memorize strings of information—instead, they can cut, paste, decorate, and record important information in their own notebooks. It’s personalized, it’s creative, it’s memorable. Even better, it will still be there as a reference when they need to check back.

What Does an Interactive Notebook Page Look Like?

We recommend doing all interactive notebook lessons as spreads. The right page is the action page, where students cut, paste, write, color . . . and learn. The flaps, charts, pockets, and folds go here. The left page can be used to introduce the lesson, saving room for final reflection. After the right-hand page is complete, students will return to the left-hand page to reflect on what they have learned. Extension activities reinforce learning and bring closure to a lesson.

How Do I Start Using Interactive Notebooks in My Classroom?

You can begin at any point in the school year. It's easy to get started (click here and turn to page 4); the basics include a pile of notebooks, creative tools, and eager students. Creative tools include glue sticks, scissors, markers, or crayons to start. You will also need an organizational plan. (click here and turn to page 6)

How Do I Get Students On Board?

Throw a launch party. Kick off this on-going program by allowing students to design and decorate the front covers of their notebooks. Encourage ownership by allowing them free rein over their designs. Then, have them label several front pages for a table of contents. Typically, students will fill in the details as they go, although you may want to preprogram these for younger students. The order will follow your lesson plans. Able students can fill in lessons and page numbers each time something new is presented in this format. Be sure they also number every notebook page that follows the table of contents.

What Subjects Work with Interactive Notebooks?

Interactive notebook pages can be used to teach or reinforce almost any part of your curriculum. Language Arts fundamentals are a natural. Most concepts can be taught creatively with interactive parts and pieces combined with color-coding. Using interactive notebooks for Word Study also makes sense. Students will enjoy the hands-on approach to word patterns rather than having to memorize unfamiliar words by rote.

How about Other Content Areas?

Interactive notebook pages can greatly enhance Math concepts. Math interactive notebooks are a hands-on tool that engage kids in the process of math, rather than the memorization of facts. Numbers will start to make sense. Science concepts also lend themselves to this process. Students will get a chance to see the various parts of what makes their world tick. 

Start Today

Interactive notebooks have gained huge popularity and anyone who uses them knows why. Because of their creative nature, students become active participants in their own learning. We all know that this is when learning sticks! Interactive notebooks make learning fun for everyone.