Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some comments on my students using Interactive Notebooks

Just a few things I've learned about using Interactive Notebooks with my seventh graders:

1. If you collect and grade papers/student work that will be included in the S.I.N. (Student Interactive Notebook), either allow students time (and if necessary, use of the classroom glue supply) to add the work to their SIN at the time you return the papers, OR, hold onto several assignments/activities you've graded, then dedicate part of the class period you return the assignments/activities for students to add them to their interactive notebook. IF you return assignments/activities and do not allow time for students to add this work to their SIN, too many will lose it and it will never get into their interactive notebook.

2. Do NOT assume Seventh Graders understand the concept of even/odd. I encourage you to cruise the classroom when students are numbered pages in their SIN at the start of a unit. In their SIN, odd numbered pages are on the left side [work completed outside of class] of their notebook and even numbers [work done in class]are on the right side of their notebooks. I have found many do not pay attention to the repeated instructions, do not pay attention to the samples drawn on the board or, being seventh graders, their mushy minds are who-knows-where. So, cruise the classroom and make sure they are numbering correctly. OH, and USE A PENCIL to write the numbers!

3. Sometimes notes or assignments need more space than you thought. Certain assignments all being on a certain page often, lets just say, leads to a messier SIN. Some of my seventh graders are "needing" three pages in their SIN to complete what I think are two pages for notes, questions, etc. This is due largely to the fact that some of them are still printing in big letters like third graders. I
suggest you don't have a cow about this; on the plus side, they did the work, even if in the near future, their SIN will not have the assignments on the pages you ask for them to be on. One strategy for dealing with "page over-runs" is to simply add a page or a partial page to their SIN. This can work, but help them with it so their pages don't end up stuck together.

4. Having some students with the nice 8.5 x 11 spiral notebooks and too many with the cheaper 8 x 10.5 spiral notebooks is a pain and hassle when configuring some of the assignments/activities that will be included in their SIN. However, on a positive note, this has helped me par down to the absolute necessary questions related to our subject matter/topic. ( I tend to try to teach too much of "past" standards material or too much of our standards material.....the problem with liking history and being frustrated that they cannot really grasp the current standards material because they never had a chance to learn the "past" standards material because Social Studies is not taught in our district's sixth grade classrooms.....but that's another something to blog about in the future)

5. Letting students use their SIN on tests and quizzes does not improve their test/quiz scores. Students who have learned the material do well and hardly look at their SIN; Students who did not learn the material and even using their SIN, well, they didn't do the work so there is not much to help them on the test/quiz. However, the SIN is a great tool in Parent-Student-Teacher conferences. Parent is usually not real happy to hear his/her spawn failed a test/quiz that was "open book," so to speak.

and Lastly, at number 6, I have sadly learned that even though more students have more of their work (in their SIN), this does not mean that they study and review it as part of their homework, that they correct errors on their work, or that they complete work that they failed to finish when it was being done in class or as homework.

Anyhow, using a Student Interactive Notebook can be a good tool for helping students be organized and have most of their work in one place. Of course, there are those who can't find their SIN, who lost their SIN, whose SIN in someplace in a relatives car in Mexico.......

Are you using Interactive Notebooks? I would really like to hear your comments about them. THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG !