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Monday, October 13, 2014

Interactive Notebooks: It's not just cutting and gluing!


I honestly do not know what I would do without interactive notebooks. These notebooks are so much more than just cutting and gluing.

If you are using interactive notebooks, you have probably figured out by now that your students are always 100% engaged during your lessons. They take great pride in their notebooks and they are a valuable learning tool.

If you haven't read this blog post yet, please click on the link. It is filled with many helpful hints to ensure success.

The RIGHT side of the notebook is meant for guided learning. This is where we work together, with our students, to learn new concepts. For young students, who are not quite ready for typical note-taking, this is where they will cut and glue fun shapes that contain valuable information. They'll fold, lift flaps, and stick stuff in pockets. 


Your students will quickly learn that they need to pay close attention to the directions or they will risk cutting off a valuable piece of information. They will not be happy if this happens! 

Once you and your students have completed the activity on the RIGHT side of the notebook, it is time for them to interact with this new information on the LEFT SIDE. This is where they will show their understanding of the concepts just introduced and give them an opportunity to apply it. Older students should come up with their own way to interact with the new information. Younger students need a bit more guidance.

Here are some examples of how my students process the new information on the LEFT side of their notebooks...
Students defined the characteristics of a fable. 
They had to find this information in the text.

Students chose their favorite character from the story and wrote why they liked him/her. 

This is the same as the activity above. However, it was completed later in the school year, so the children were asked to cite specific evidence from the story. (The word men is actually the word mean! LOL!)
Students used color and number adjectives to describe a noun. 
They were told to come up with their own adjectives and not to just copy them from the right side. 

Students wrote and illustrated their own verb. 

Student's came up with their own possessive noun phrases.



Students used one of the words from the right side in a sentence. We learned about complete sentences the same week, so they were also applying that new knowledge in this activity.

I dictated the words on the left for the children to write. They used the words on the right to help spell them correctly. For example, in the second one, I said "Rack. Change the vowel sound in a word on the right to make rack."

So, as you can see, there are many, many different ways to help your students process their new knowledge. Without this crucial step, interactive notebooks are just cutting and gluing. This is definitely fun to do, but certainly NOT what makes an interactive notebook interactive. 

Just remember...


31 comments:

  1. Thank you!! I love the ideas for the "left-side" of the notebook. So often, these interactive notebooks seem to just turn into cut/paste collections. I love the ideas for extensions that really help the students gain understanding, independent practice, and an opportunity to apply what they have learned. Cutting & pasting is fun... but often promotes following directions rather than practice with the intended skill. Thanks for the refresher!

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    1. Heather,

      You are so right! It is amazing to watch the children interact with and apply all the new skills they have learned. It's my favorite part of notebooking!

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  2. Thank you so much for this post it is so helpful!! Am I correct in thinking that these lessons are done whole group?? Thank you!

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    1. Amy,

      I do them whole group but some people do not. It's really personal preference. It also depends on the particular activity. The reading skills we always do together, but some of the grammar, phonics, and sight word activities can be completed without me. But, my personal preference is to do them whole group.

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    2. Thank you very much! I tried it small group during daily 5 and they had a hard time while I was trying to teach guided reading. I think I will try them whole group. Thank you for the tips!!

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    3. I think that will work well for you Amy!

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  3. Do you do these whole group or in small groups?

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    1. Lee Ann,

      I do mine whole group, but I know teachers who prefer to do them in small groups. I like doing them whole group because I enjoy the discussions we have.

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  4. Lori I am loving the interactive notebook activities that I purchased from you! My students are working hard and they enjoy the activities. They are so proud of their notebooks:). Thank you !

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    1. I am so happy to hear this Julie! Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

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  5. Such a wonderful explanation of how to use IN properly! Awesome info. Thank you so much for enlightening me!

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    1. You're so sweet! Thanks so much for the kind words!

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  6. Very cute! These look like so much fun! I'll have to keep this awesome product in mind if I get back to 1st grade in the near future! :)
    ~Sarah

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  7. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thank you for explaining it, because the Interactive Notebooks that I've seen have been just cutting and pasting!!

    Angela
    The Daily Alphabet

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    1. You're very welcome, Angela! They are really so MUCH more!

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  8. Lori do you use an anchor chart or rubric for students to follow?

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    1. Jenny,

      I don't have a rubric, but I do use verbal scales. We follow Marzano, so I check for understanding with every lesson.

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  9. Thanks for this post. Very helpful! I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I totally missed the "left side" memo, but I'm going to start using that ASAP. I know it will make the students' notebooks more meaningful. Thanks for sharing!

    -Amanda
    Kindergarten Teacher at the Wheel

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    1. So glad you found the post helpful! Have fun on the left side! LOL!

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  10. I love the simple visual you created to remember left side and right side usage! Nicely done!
    ~Paul Anton
    Promoting Success Blog

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  11. This is great! I sooo want to use more interactive notebooks! Just to be sure, the right and left can be reversed to be left and right, correct? I always have my kiddos glue on the left and write on the right side to avoid the crispy wrinkly pages when writing. The right-side page is always nice and smooth for writing. Just wondered. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. Terry, I was going to do it that way too, for just the same reason. However, doing it the way I mentioned is based on brain research, by the experts. So, I decided that was the way to go!

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  12. Your notebooks have changed the way I teach phonics and grammar to my firsties. They are so engaged and interested in the lessons like I've never seen before. In fact, every morning, I had at least one kid asking if we could do a notebook page that day. They LOVE them! Thank you!!!

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    1. Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for letting me know! This makes me smile from ear to ear!

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  13. This is my third day of using the Phonics pages and I LOVE them! I do have 2 questions: What do you do when a student is absent?
    What kind of notebooks do you use? I have the single-subject spiral notebooks with 70 pages. I had intended for the students to use both sides of the pages, but I completely missed the application part. I definitely like that part, but now I'm afraid I won't have enough room. Any suggestions?
    J.Wood- 1st Grade

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    1. Hello! I'm so glad you are enjoying the activities. When a student is absent, another student puts the page they missed inside their notebook. They don't cut it. They just stick it inside and number the page for them. They make it up when they return to school. I use marble notebooks, but lots of teachers use spirals. You can still use the left side for the creative activity. You will need to replace the notebooks sometime during the school year though. Good luck to you!

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