After giving Interactive Notebooks a shot last year and considering how they failed, I've decided to have another go at them. However, I've made some strategic changes to avoid the problems we encountered next year. The biggest issue was inserting materials into the notebook. As long as students were simply copying down information, they worked great and never had to search for notes since I could tell them exactly where to find them. However, I have a lot of handouts for reference, and that's where I ran into troubles. After some experimenting, here's what I've decided to do:
Students will have a combination of a 1" Binder (with a pocket in the front and back) and Interactive Notebook composition book. Handouts and loose leaf paper (for quizzes) will be organized into the binder, while notes will go into the notebook. The composition book will go into the pocket of the binder (this is why I want a 1" binder instead of 1/2"). Thus, the binder is a kind of "Appendix" for the notebook and I know exactly where students should be looking for items without either of them getting too crammed. They can even write references on worksheets (see page so-and-so in IN) and annotate notes to refer to handouts.
I will specify this year that the comp book MUST be 100 sheets and standard size (this was an issue last year, especially when you're trying to tell students to put certain items on certain pages). Because this notebook is strictly for notes, and the binder is for the items that are handed in/out, the set-up will be simple. I'm trying to decide whether I should even take class time to have them do it or just assign the set-up as homework (I'm leaning toward the latter and making it due at the end of the first week):
- Interactive Notebook Set-Up (see pictures below)
- Students number the odd pages in the TOP, RIGHT-HAND corner (the trick to this is to have them do the ones first throughout the entire book (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) and then go back and do the tens (skip first 5, then put "1" in front of the next five, then "2", etc. all the way through 15 for books with 80 sheets or 20 for books with 100 sheets)
- For the sections, students fold over the corner of their page until it meets the center, like how the Origami projects started to make a rectangle page square. Alternatively, they could do tabs, but I found that most students chose not to get tabs, so this is a quick-and-easy way to make the sections easy to flip to.
- Students write the section heading on this folded over part (so if you unfolded it, it would be on the back of the page).
- The Table of Contents goes on the front of the unfolded page. Students will fill these in as they take notes.
- Interactive Notebook Sections:
- 1 - Table of Contents (includes the page numbers for the following sections; individual page numbers for specific notes goes on the section page)
- 3 - Essential Vocabulary (this is the vocabulary that they will be tested on)
- 51 - Verb Karate (Only for Spanish II/II)
- 75 - Algo Más
- 101 - Reading Journal
- Binder Setup
- Front pocket - Interative Notebook (on the rare occasion that I provide a handout for homework, it would go in the front pocket, too, unless they have another designated location for homework)
- Before first tab: Syllabus and Diarios (each new item will go on top of the last, so the Syllabus will actually be at the back of this section and the most recent Diario that they're working on should be at the front).
- Tab 1: Song Lyrics
- Tab 2: Algo Más and Other Handouts
- Tab 3: Quizzes and Assessments (this is for their reading, listening, and writing quizzes at the end of each week)
- Tab 4: Verb Karate (Spanish I and II only) - I am providing a basic cheat sheet/reference guide with verb endings that will go at the front of this section (students can also put other printed guides, such as those available on conjuguemos.com and studyspanish.com, with this). Afterward, they'll put their completed Verb Karate attempts so they can review their mistakes and study. Of course, all notes and practice that I have them do will go into the IN, so this is an excellent example of where students may want to annotate the items in their IN with the page numbers of where the notes they took are.
- Tab 5 (Tab 4 for Intro to Spanish and Spanish I): Loose leaf paper for quizzes (notes go in the IN!), so they won't need more than 1 or 2 sheets of loose leaf paper each week. I'll recommend students put about 20 sheets of paper in there to start with and re-stock when their supply gets low).
Sometimes I wonder if this is too much and if I should just stick to a binder, but then I remember what it was like trying to keep track of notes that I took and getting them mixed in (or never put in) with all the paper in my own binder. Hopefully, this will at least make it possible to keep all the notes they take organized and, in the worst case scenario, students will only lose the handouts that I make available online for them to print anyway. I will be checking their reading journals at the end of each semester, so I may as well go ahead and flip through the entire notebook and make that part of their grade (one of my class goals is for students to prepare themselves for their futures by taking accurate notes and keeping materials organized, so it's justified!). I'll post pictures and reactions as we get to it. I'm feeling fairly confident this will work for us!