The third thing I love about my notebook--the pocket! My students used this almost daily. Whenever we had pieces that they needed to keep track of from day to day, put it in the pocket. Whenever they received assignments back and needed to keep them to study for the next exam, put it in the pocket. Whenever we had a busy day and didn't quite get all the lose ends tied up, put it in the pocket. It was fantastic! Periodically if we had a few minutes left in class we would have "Pocket-Cleaning Sessions." Man, some of these kiddos are hoarders! :)
You can also see a couple other things I love (but didn't warrant their own Top 5 number) in the pictures above. We held our notebooks together with rubber bands once things started expanding. I got the idea here and let me tell you, it was a life saver! Most of my students' notebooks were still in great condition at the end of the year and I attribute much of that to the rubber bands. It helped keep things secure while bouncing around in a junior high backpack. YIKES!
You can also see our Speed Dial Partners peaking out in the picture on the far right. It's like clock partners but I made an iPhone template. While I still really like this idea, we hardly used it all year. Students filled in their partners on the first day of school during a Kagan getting to know you activity. The idea petered out for a couple reasons: 1) lots of students got schedule changes, moving between class periods, so lots of partners were messed up, and 2) I often rather paired/grouped students intentionally rather than going with whatever "get with partner #2" would yield. Oh well...
That being said, I plan to use that space to attach our pocket to the back cover next year. I think that will help increase the durability of the beloved pocket.
The fourth thing I love about my notebook--math notes are FUN! When you tell students to get out their notebooks during class time and there are audible cheers, it is music to a teacher's ears. We use colored pencils, highlighters, pockets, foldables, post-it notes, and tape all the time. Yes, 13/14-year olds LOVE it! They get excited to create their notes, color-code their important information, and add things to their personalized notebook. And of course nothing makes a teacher more excited than when students get excited about learning!
*I'll do individual posts on the topics shown above later*
The fifth thing I love my notebook--planning! Now, this is a little different from the rest and doesn't have its own fun picture, but planning with the notebook in mind made me a better teacher. I had to think through the most important aspects of the topics covered, and plan concise and cohesive notes. No more slapping too many problems into a powerpoint and calling it a lesson. I thought carefully about which few problems would be most beneficial for students, and the best way to present these problems. I thought through information clustering and how to create foldables, what color-coding would be most beneficial, what application topics or activities would glean the most information for my students. I can say, hands down, that implementing Interactive Notebooks has made me better. I encourage you to try it in your classroom; I bet it makes you better as well. :)
Now, before I dive back in to topic-specific posts, I want to know what kinds of things YOU would like to see first. As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, my students and I learned a LOT of math this year. We went all the way from rational/irrational numbers, through basic algebraic thinking, and ended with parent functions and systems of multiple functions. Now, I'm not saying I created stellar pages for every topic we did, but if there's something you're curious about please leave a comment so I can get to that topic sooner rather than later. Also if you have a question about notebook logistics, leave that in a comment and I'll try to address it.
Here are a few pictures to get you started thinking!
(from a Donors Choose project)