Best Practices In Teaching, Learning, and Technology Integration

Welcome to my Blog! I hope to share innovative information that I learn about technology integration and best practices in teaching and learning. Combined with good instructional strategies,technology integration is the key for creating an engaging and rigorous environment for students. Feel free to join the site and follow my blog posts. I look forward to interacting with you and adding you to my Professional Learning Network. Thank you!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interactive Notebooks: It sounded like a good idea!

Last school term, I searched for a way to engage my students in the math classroom as they took notes on important concepts. The idea was to provide them with something they would always have to refer to or look back on, as a study aide. Also, it is important to me that my students create good communication skills in math, building their mathematical discourse. So, when I ran across information on Interactive Notebooks, I thought this would be the "cure all" for my middle school students.

The Interactive Notebook is a good strategy for students to keep track of their learning. This concept is originated from History Alive's "Interactive Student Notebook." It was beneficial to my students, as it provided a medium for them to be creative, sort, and categorize new information as they learned it. Basically, information is recorded on the right side (from the student's reflection) and learned information is generated on the left (from the teacher's direct instruction). Below is what I used to explain the process to my students and model the reflection side for them.

Pros: Students will have the same notes; helpful when reviewing for quizzes/tests; Students can demonstrate creativity and ownership.
Cons: A lot of time, work and mistakes for the teachers when setting up; Lost notebooks; New students entering mid-year.

Reflection: As I look back on my reaction to facing the cons (aborting the strategy almost mid-year), I do so with regret. To my surprise, quite a few students pulled out their notebooks toward the end of the year to help with completing exam study guides or end of year projects. Then it hit: I should have stayed the course! What lead me to abandon the notebooks? What can I do differently to maintain them throughout the year? Well, one thing that discouraged me was when students lost their notebook or did not come to class with it. Another pitfall was when students took an extra long time to copy notes into their notebooks. Now I know that I can provide students with pre-written notes to glue inside the notebook. Also, if a notebook is lost or not brought to class, I can have students begin with a 3-ring binder type notebook, and copy a little at a time from another student. Having the pre-written notes will be a plus, because students can place those in the binder and rewrite their reflections on the back. I am ready to try it again this fall! I also have found several sites to help with ideas such as table of contents, grading rubrics, and other ideas. The following sites should be helpful with math and other subjects:

Please comment and share your thoughts if you have tried interactive notebooks, or if you will try them in the future.

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I would love to hear from you about how you can use these strategies in your classroom, or any additional ideas. Thank you for visiting!