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Using Foldable Graphic Organizers with Interactive Notebooks

What are interactive notebooks? 

 Interactive notebooks are a great way to have students organize information, preview assignments, record their thoughts, keep a portfolio of their work, make connections, explain concepts and demonstrate understanding in a creative and meaningful way  (TCI, 2013). The interactive notebook is a tool for student learning and a portfolio of their work.  

What are the benefits?

One of the biggest benefits I have personally seen with interactive notebooks is the amount of engagement and pride that students seem to have in their notebook.  The work is personal and meaningful.  

How do you set them up?

There are many ways a teacher can set up interactive notebooks.  A teacher may choose to have different subjects in different notebooks.  Or they may choose to focus on a single subject and just have one interactive notebook.  If you are trying to save on the cost of the notebooks, you may want to include more than one subject in a notebook.   I have seen this done by dividing notebooks into sections.  I have also seen this done with one subject going from the front cover towards the center, flipping the notebook over, and having another subject go from the back cover towards the center. Some teachers like to use the left side for student processing (drawings, quick writes, diagrams) and the right for teacher input (notes, lab work, reading responses).  

Here are some general tips I have for setting up interactive notebooks:

  • ·      Use a non-spiral, composition notebook.  Spiral notebooks tend to lose their pages.
  • ·      Skip the first few pages to allow for a title page and table of contents.   The table of contents helps with organization and assessment of the notebook.
  • ·      Keep them in the classroom!  Do not allow students to take them home until they have been completed and assessed at the end of the semester or school year. 
  • ·      Have the students number the pages as you go and be very specific, especially in the beginning about what you want in each entry.
  • ·      If appropriate, provide the students with a rubric, letting them know specifically how you will be assessing the notebook.  

What do you have students actually do in the interactive notebook?
The possibilities are endless.  Here are a few things that I have tried that have worked well. 

·      Brainstorming
·      KWL charts
·      Venn Diagrams
·      Concept Maps
·      Thinking Maps
·      Graphs
·      Charts
·      Diagrams
·      Illustrations
·      Maps
·      Foldable graphic organizers
Foldable Graphic Organizers are by far the favorite with the students and most of the above ideas could easily be done within foldable graphic organizers.  These organizers give the students an opportunity to express their understanding both linguistically and visually.  They can replace worksheets with something student generated that has more meaning for the student. 
Foldable graphic organizers have the additional benefit of simply being a better use of space.  Each area provides another space to record information.  This makes your paper and your notebook go a lot further. Try out a foldable graphic organizer for organizing something into parts such as comparing and contrasting, supporting details or cause and effect.  

For more on interactive notebooks and foldable graphic organizers please visit these sites.
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