Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Big Interactive Notebook Post...Finally!

So, it's about time I did a follow up post to my Interactive Notebook post here and here.  I know, I'm a slacker.  

I think it's very important to start off by saying I DO NOT follow the traditional method of using Interactive Notebooks.  I see nothing wrong with the methodology of the left and right pages, I just don't do it.  I teach high school and a lot of the posts and pins I've seen about Interactive Notebooks are for elementary or middle school students.  There are very few Spanish teachers I've come across that use Interactive Notebooks, though I have found a few.  What I have found are tons of great ideas on Pinterest that have led me to some real gems that I'm happy to share with you on my Interactive Notebook Pinterest board.  I am incorporating a lot of Sarah's ideas this year for setting up the notebooks.

Back to mine.  I think it's important to emphasize I do treat these Interactive Notebooks a lot less like Interactive Notebooks than elementary teachers do.  Mine do consist of notes (and lots of them), vocabulary lists, etc.  But, I do use foldables, color coding and a huge reliance on organization (numbering, titling, table of contents, etc.).  Since I rarely use my textbook, this is the next best thing my students have to study from, so it needs to be the same for everyone.  I am not going to say I don't get questioned every day about the correct page to be on, what if my notes aren't as long as yours or mine are too long, etc.  It's really hard to keep them all where they're supposed to be, but I make all attempts necessary to do so because it's that important to me.  What I have found helps them to stay with me is giving them the number of pages they will be working with on a given day.  For example, if we're covering vocabulary, they know what page we'll be starting on, but I also tell them what page we'll be ending on.  I do the same with Grammar notes or practice activities we do.  If they write smaller than me (which most do), they usually don't take up as many pages as I do and that's fine.  I tell them to intentionally leave the pages blank.  If they write larger than me, they have to try to cram it all onto the proper pages.  Again, I write pretty large so this generally is not a problem for me. 

Now, let's talk about the ways I use the notebooks.  As I've said, I put everything in them in terms of vocabulary and grammar notes.  On rare occasions I will have my students complete a homework assignment or in class assignment in them, but for the most part they're really used as a resource rather than for practice (hence the fact that I do not do the left/right notebook method).  Here you can see some pictures of what I mean...


Sometimes I run out of space or have a grammar concept that I know is going to be A LOT of notes (Asking and Answering Questions is a HUGE topic for example).  When that happens, I tend to give the students more of a fill-in-the-blank type notes page and then just have them write examples on the notebook pages and just fill in key components on the worksheet notes.  The worksheet is then taped into the notebook and folded in half so they can close up the notebook and not lose the sheet.  Sometimes I have the students fill in charts that are just taped into the books and other times we complete cloze type activities with songs that help reinforce the information we've covered that day (this page is showing Reflex Your Verby - if you haven't checked this one out, you HAVE to!) 


Though I really don't use textbooks, I am still tied to the vocabulary and grammar structures covered within the book, so my vocabulary lists are incredibly long.  The way I tackle them is to break them into sections and give each section a title (it may be the same as what the book uses or it may be something more updated).  I have the students write the section title in the margin and then the words for that section go next to the title.  Once we've reached the end of the section, they draw a line.  It's simple but helps keep them organized.  We keep the Spanish words/phrases on the left and the English on the right. 


I found it easiest to print out the table of contents over four pages and then have them glue/tape the pages onto the inside cover of the notebook.  I wish I could say all of my students kept up with the table of contents, but some didn't (and their grades reflected that).  But, those that did were able to easily follow and utilize their notebooks.  

I hope this helps you to figure out how to make Interactive Notebooks work for you.  The key thing is to realize that what someone else does may or may not work for you.  It's taken me 14 years of teaching to realize it, but things that work in other classes just may not work in mine, no matter how hard I try or how much better for my students it may be.  You ultimately have to do what will enable your students to learn.  Maintaining our Interactive Notebooks this way has worked for me and my students so far.  That could all change in September, but I'm still going to give it my all because I haven't felt the sense of achievement that I felt with my kids last year in a long time.

Comment and tell me what you do with Interactive Notebooks and how you do it.  If you don't use them yet, can I answer any questions for you?


18 comments:

  1. Hola Cherin! I'm with you and love interactive notebooks for high school. I just dipped my toe into this practice with my student teacher's help and I found it useful for my students as well. Like you, I ditched the textbook years ago and RARELY use a workbook anymore so his is a huge resource for my kids. I've spent some time mining resources through Pinterest and would love to share as well as follow you!

    Look for me online andgave a great incoming year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Deb! I wish I could say I've ditched the textbook entirely, but I still have to follow the structure, vocab, etc. Hopefully one day I'll get away from it entirely. I'm going to find you on Pinterest now and take a look at your resources. :)

      Delete
  2. Cherin! I'm so excited to have found your blog. I started investigating interactive notebooks toward the end of the school year. I love the idea and I've made a few things to go along with the idea. I feel like such a newbie though when it comes to the whole set up and implementation process, but I'm looking forward to giving it a go this year. Following you on Pinterest now. Thanks for sharing your ideas! Emilie...Island Teacher on TpT :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Emilie! So glad you found me (and I also found you this year!). Good luck and let me know if I can answer any questions for you. :)

      Delete
  3. Felicidades Cherin! Excelente proyecto; lo voy a aplicar en mis clases también. Pienso que les enseña, por otra parte a los estudiantes, a ser responsables de su aprendizaje :)
    Gracias

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Muchisimas gracias!! Buena suerte con los estudiantes nuevos y el proyecto. :)

      Delete
  4. I used interactive notebooks in my elementary classroom for years. When I moved back to HS/MS Spanish 3 years ago, it seemed like a no-brainer for me! I love that the kids have everything at their fingertips! I would be interested in seeing the hand-outs and worksheets you include in your notebooks. Great work! Cassandra

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much! I am a middle school French teacher and next year we are transitioning to a block schedule. I'm looking for a way to keep my students organized and to add some routine to the 90 min block. I would like to incorporate some reflection in here too though so I'm still thinking on that. These ideas are great and I think they will be a big help to my students!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Always happy to find a fellow Spanish teacher who moonlights as a blogger. :)
    Thanks for sharing this awesome idea for the notebook. Going to follow!
    amy @ http://www.thegiftedgabber.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks so much! I wish I had more time to keep up with this blog - maybe in the summer. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Cherin, I am entering my 6th year as a high school Spanish teacher and I have never done an interactive notebook, but it is something that I want to start using this year if I can wrap my head around it! I just have a few questions.

    1) Warm-Ups - I usually have my students complete one each day. I noticed you have warm-ups listed on your Table of Contents...is this something you include in the notebook regularly?

    2) Also, for the notes. Are your notes pre-written and the students copy them or do you write them at the same time they do? I am trying to figure out how to structure a lesson, but am a little confused. Do I give notes then we insert the foldables or vice versa.

    Any help would be appreciated! Thanks! Keep the ideas coming :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Haley! Thanks so much for reaching out. I'm terrible with keeping up anymore, but I'm happy to answer your questions. :)

      1. I don't do warm-ups every day (every year I say I will, but I never do, lol). So, I just create a page or two in each chapter that we use for warm-ups. You could designate several pages initially in each chapter or you could just do a page and when you run out of room, claim another page as you go...meaning, they wouldn't be chunked all together. It's totally up to you how to do it.

      2. My notes are usually done on a PowerPoint or Prezi. So, the students copy and I add to the notebook at the same time or shortly thereafter. Sometimes I give them handouts that have the notes on them that they just add to and they would fold/glue it into the notebook.

      We usually take a day to do all the foldables at the start of the chapter and then when it's time for notes, the foldable are already there.

      Hope that helps!

      Cherin

      Delete
  9. One more question I thought of! Do you stick to the Teacher Input on the Right and Student Output on the left format?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That I don't do. I just use the notebooks for notes, not practice (usually). I teach high school, so I don't find that that method really works for me.

      Delete
  10. So do you keep separate notebook for daily work and tests?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use packets instead of the textbook, so any daily work would be done in the packets. Tests I do not give back to my students. These notebooks are more for notes/vocab and occasional practice/warm-ups.

      Delete
  11. Do you sell a printable package for everything you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry, I don't. I never really had the time to keep up with this blog, but I do still use the notebooks. Unfortunately for my high school kids, the cutting took too much time so I am eliminating the cutting aspect all together this year.

      Delete