Monday, July 28, 2014

Setting up the Classroom for Interactive Notebooks: Routines

Now that you know how last year worked for me, I think it's time to talk about how I'm going to be working this year with the Interactive Notebooks.  Though the start of school is still a month away for me (thankfully, I still have so much to do!), I have been planning out the first couple of weeks of school, namely the Interactive Notebook introduction.

Last year I didn't really discover the concept of Interactive Notebooks until the third marking period (over halfway through the year) but I implemented them right away.  I knew I was treading dangerous ground not really focusing on the routine establishment, but I didn't have a lot of time and wanted to jump right in.  Would I change that?  Not a chance.  Did I learn from it?  You betcha.

This year I am going to work hard on establishing routines.  Last year I used one basket/bucket per set of 4-5 students and those buckets housed colored pens, pencils, erasers, hi lighters, glue, tape, scissors and white out.  I wish I could say that everything stayed as it should and all of my students took good care of the items I spent {lots} of money on, but I can't.  They had very little respect for what was provided to them.  Many of them even used those buckets to throw their scraps of trash in.  There was no organization.  Students just grabbed whatever bucket they could when told - some didn't even grab the whole bucket, just pulled stuff from them.  Needless to say, I was less than pleased.  

That forced me to wise up.  Today I visited one of my favorite haunts, Dollar Tree (lol) and picked up some more baskets for my classroom.  I now am going to have those same buckets from last year in addition to what you see below.   I'm also going to be assigning numbers to each group.  This way if something goes missing, I can easily determine which group had it last.  This really is common sense and I'm slapping myself for not doing that last year, but like I said, I just wanted to jump in and see if it worked.  So, my students will now be assigned a school supply bucket where they will keep the scissors and glue that I provide for them.  This year they are responsible for pens, colored pencils, white out, hi lighters, etc.  They will also be assigned a small bucket for trash.  Each group will be responsible for throwing the small bucket of trash into the larger bucket.  We really only cut a few things per class period (if that), so small buckets will work for us.  Finally, last year I put my students' notebooks in a rolling drawer cart.  I wasn't too pleased with how it worked because the students seemed to never know which drawer was theirs (again, routines).  So this year I'm going to use tubs broken down into class periods.  Each group within the class period is going to have a different pattern of masking tape to put around the binding of their notebooks and then each class will put them into the tubs.  It's basically a combination of this idea and this idea.  Here's what some of my buckets/tubs will look like (I made the labels and used my Xyron machine to stick them on - the trash and supply bins both have group numbers on them for the kids to recognize).

Now that I have the structure, I need to assign roles to the kids.  I don't want a mad dash for the supply area every time we have class.  I'm thinking I want to set up something like this in my classroom but instead of having papers there, I want to put the class' tub there for the notebooks.  I generally do not let my students take them home because they lose them or they leave them in their lockers.  So, unless they need them to finish up an assignment or to study from, they stay in the classroom.  I'm always standing at my door to greet my kids before class starts, so I may even just ask a student to put the bin on the table at the start of class.  Then I need to assign students to be responsible for picking up the notebooks out of the tub (because otherwise I'll have mad chaos like I did last year and I do NOT want to go through that again).  This person will also be responsible for putting them back at the end of class.   I also plan on assigning a student to be responsible for picking up the supply basket, another for picking up any worksheets, another for emptying the trash bin and putting that along with the basket back on the shelf at the end of class.  Of course when they put materials back at the end of the period, I expect that they will organize everything prior to putting it back.  I do not anticipate having groups larger than 4, but I may need to make adjustments once I actually see my rosters for this coming year.  

I do want to note that this post was instrumental in helping me really narrow down the routines.  I knew I needed them, but wasn't quite sure how.  Now I'm excited to start establishing these routines.  

Keep posted as I go over more ideas and and how I plan on implementing Interactive Notebooks this coming year.  As always, comment if you have a question or leave me a comment telling me how you're implementing Interactive Notebooks in your classroom.


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