Using (well sort of) interactive notebooks in math class

I've never formally taught using interactive notebooks.  As those who read the math workshop series know, not everyone is on the same page, so interactive notebooks seemed onerous to me. And truth be told, they still seem that way. But I have found that the principles, particularly of note taking, has huge benefits. 

So, for the past couple of weeks, I've been trying out some foldables, flip books, and other interactive notebook inspired ideas.  I have barely dipped my toe in the water so to speak but here's what I've discovered.

1. STUDENTS LOVE THESE:  My students(even the gifted ones who often resist step by step instruction) love these. Each of my students already had a notebook that they use for problems and activities.  Rather than use the same notebook, each student got a second notebook. I told the students that they would be building their own reference books. Each "book" is customized to the student. For example, one student was working on ellipses (got this great resource from Jean Adams at Flamingo Math) and the other student was using a flip book I created for writing equations from word problems.  At the same time, other students are doing kinesthetic activities, taking assessments, or having a scavenger hunt for practice and review

2. STUDENTS ARE EMPOWERED:  I guess I thought that INBs would be teacher-centered, but I was wrong (at least in how I'm using the principles in my class). I included all the instructions for each notebook element  so students could work on their own in building the reference pages. The students diligently cut, glued, colored and wrote notes. They then used these as they began to learn new skills.

3. KNOWLEDGE RETENTION IS HIGH I am so impressed with how much better students seem to understand new material then before I started using these reference pages. The student here was learning graphing linear inequalities. I built this step-by-step guide. The student walked herself through the steps pretty effortlessly and the first problem she did afterwards she had no problem with. She flew through it because she had thought about and practiced the concepts before she tackled her first problem.

I'm super excited about using more INB ideas as the year goes on. And while certainly the best part has been seeing the positive outcomes for my students, I'm also reminded of the importance of adapting to my class and teaching style. I never thought about using INBs before, because I knew I wasn't going to be able to do all the steps in the traditional sense. Still, I have been able to adapt the ideas and tools for my class and am thankful for adding another great resource to support my students this year.

Is there a great idea or method you have tried that I should know about?  Let me know in the comments section. I continue to learn and improve with ideas from the fantastic teacher community.



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