What Really is an Interactive Notebook?

If you have been reading my blog for any time you know that I am passionate about the use of Interactive Notebooks as a part of learning in the classroom. Each time I am out and about for professional developments I work with teachers from all ranges of the spectrum of Interactive Notebooks. Some of them have used them for a few years and want to get better where as there are some who aren’t even aware of what an Interactive Notebook truly is. Today I want to take some time to review what an Interactive Notebook is and subsequently what they aren’t.

What Really Is an Interactive Notebook

When we look at the words Interactive Notebook it breaks down to:

Interactive Notebook Definition

The “notebook” part of an Interactive Notebook is something that all of the teachers that I have worked with have down because we have all worked with different forms of notebooks over the course of time. The tricky part it seems is the “interactive” portion.

Research behind interactive notebooks shows that they are most beneficial when used as a learning tool developed by students for students. We as teachers guide the input that is being put into the notebooks so that students build a solid foundation and then students develop the output to demonstrate what they have learned.

As a teacher we must determine what our students would need to complete an input activity from us as a teacher. For the most part in my classroom this was a mini lesson of sorts where my students took notes whether it be within a flippable, cloze notes or other method.

Mean, Median, Mode and Range Flippable

Within this mini lesson not only did my students have a flippable to match the definition and key words for Mean, Median, Mode and Range to but we also completed a class graph in the center over the hours of sleep each student in the classroom had received the night before. Based on that data we then determined our mean, median, mode and range for an example to pull from. To continue, we also created examples of Real Life Mean, Median, Mode and Range. This was all part of the input activity that I guided my students through in class.

From this students must synthesize what they have learned and organize the information so that they can apply it to build connections on their own. This could vary from day to day and student to student. I have used everything from practice problems, journals, reflections, connections, mind maps, and applying real life to what they have learned.

What does all of this mean?

As teachers we must take time to make sure that we are using Interactive Notebooks appropriately. They are not just a manner to organize teacher notes just as they are not just a manner to organize glorified worksheets. Just because we use scissors, glue and color to put them together does not mean that they should be 100% student centered busy-work.

Students must be able to take ownership of what they are learning for them to be effective. We as a teacher must realize that and guide that in our instruction and modeling so students can see that when they build their own connections it will deepen their own personal learning.

Interactive Notebooks Starter's Pack

If you are interested in learning more about Interactive Notebooks in the classroom, check out my FREE Starter Pack for all subjects! And come back next week where I will have some friends linking up with me about ways they use Interactive Notebooks effectively in their classroom for student success.

Monday Made It: A Glimpse into 4th Grade Math

It seems like it has been awhile since I created a video so today was the day! I created a video to show you where I am so far in the creation of my 4th Grade Interactive Notebook!

4th Grade Math Interactive Notebook

I am absolutely loving the pages in Unit One and already working on Unit Two that I am planning to have out as soon as it is ready!

Without further ado, enjoy the video!

Off to go checkout some other fabulous Monday Made It’s by all my bloggy friends! Thanks again to 4th Grade Frolics for an amazing summer of weekly projects!

Monday Made It

Elementary Workshop Wrap-Up for Judson ISD

Talk about having a blast with a great group of teachers! Tuesday I was once again blessed to be in Judson ISD where I was working with 3rd-5th grade teachers on Integrating Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms. I’m just saying.. we had a blast despite some obstacles.

Obstacles you say? Yes, when I got to the building where the workshop was being held my copies were no where to be found. I didn’t freak despite the fact that my workshop is 100% Hands On. I was going to make it work! Next, I get into the classroom and I didn’t have a document camera to use to project what I was doing. Okay, small enough room I can show and tell. The room was FULL already about 30 minutes before I was even supposed to start… GREAT! No… even after I let another 15-20 people come in I still had to turn some away.

Good news came from it all… copies were made and delivered about 45 minutes into my 3 hour session. THANK YOU FOR THAT! The librarian brought a projector so I could show some pictures that I had synced up to my Dropbox account. The Show and Tell as well as anchor charts that we created kept teachers on task. And a full classroom just means that teachers are already asking administration to bring me back! WOOT!

Teachers at Work

After we went over all the basics of Interactive Notebooks and talked about who should use them, when to use them, how to use them and just what are they, we got busy! You can see the teachers are working hard at cutting and interacting with some BRAND NEW samples so they could create exactly what they could use in their classroom. I love how so many of the teachers had brought their own notebooks to use so they could have their notes and samples all together in an actual notebook.

I shared a lot of resources with the teachers that were there with me and I wanted to make sure I had a place for them to refer to later. If I am missing any link that you are looking for please leave a comment and I will get the link added.

Fonts used: Kimberly Geswein Fonts

Graphics used: Melonheadz

Flippable Template Pack (to create your own)

Interactive Notebook Starter Pack (FREEBIE)

Absent Student Editable Assignment for INBs

All About Interactive Notebooks (lots of links including 2 hour webinar)

Setting Up Your Interactive Notebook (video and FREEBIE Unit Tabs)

Checklists for 2014 Math TEKS (FREEBIE)

Interactive Notebook Contract (FREEBIE)

And of course we had some awesome giveaways! Thank you SO much to EduCents for supplying me with some gift cards to give some LUCKY winners below! I know they can’t wait to use their money to buy some awesome resources for their classrooms!

EduCents Gift Certificate Winners

I also gave away a few of my Flippable Template Packs to 2 teachers so that they could create their own Flippables for their classrooms. Can’t wait to see what they create!


Flippable Template Pack Winners


Monday Made It: Flipping Into a New Interactive Notebook

Another week around here means another set of goals. This past week my goal was to get the samples done for the first unit of one of my latest creations and I did it just by the skin of my teeth!

4th Grade Interactive Notebook

Less than two weeks ago I released the first unit for each of my Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade Math Interactive Notebooks. I have to say they are pretty awesome and very detailed! I am loving how they are looking and excited to get started on the next units to stay ahead of the year for you.

Knowing that I was headed to Judson ISD this week to present to some awesome elementary teachers I wanted to have a sample completed of one of the new units so that I could show them just how it looked. I sneaked a lot of pictures on my Instagram this weekend and they were well received from teachers from second grade to high school! How cool is that?

Best Crayons EVER

First, I may have bought some new crayons to help get me started on this project and OH MY HECK where have I been? The Crayola Twistables are my new best friend and I must have every color! I ordered them last week and was so excited when they arrived on Thursday that I had to start coloring right away. I am telling you that with continued usage these do not hurt my hand over time like regular crayons do. I mean, I do a lot of coloring with Interactive Notebooks and I don’t need even more carpal tunnel! These are a lifesaver!

Interactive Notebooks Cover Page

Every notebook starts with a custom cover page! I used some awesome Expressions Tape by Scotch on the cover as I was decorating it up just to give it some color. I might be as in love with this tape as I am Washi Tape!

Interactive Notebook Unit Table of Contents Freebie

While I was creating this new Interactive Notebook I took the advice of a friend and created a Unit Table of Contents. This means that the cover page of each unit has the Table of Contents for each item in that unit. This makes it so much easier for students! You can see at the top there is some tape because this Table of Contents actually has a second page underneath it. That “hinge” that is created allows for the second page to be accessed easily.

Guess what… you can download the Unit Table of Contents for FREE! Click on the picture or link above.

Place Value Number Lines

I can’t tell you how much I am in LOVE with these Interactive Place Value Number Lines. I have them in the 4th and 5th grade bundle with MORE coming! You can see this one is from ones to thousands. The other one is to ten-thousands. Decimals and to MILLIONS is coming!

4th Grade Interactive Notebook Rounding Rainbow

Rounding Rainbow is one of my fun little activities! After sharing this I had some ideas for a set of posters that will be coming soon! I’m telling you, sharing sneak peeks on Instagram continue to give me ideas daily!

4th Grade Interactive Notebook Adding Wheel

When I taught Second Grade my students STRUGGLED, to say the least, with multi-digit addition (and subtraction). To help break that down for students I created these wheels that show each step in a part of the wheel so they can go through and break it down STEP BY STEP as they are working! Talk about working the process!

Whew! I can’t wait to add all 63 photos to the 4th grade Whole Numbers, Place Value and Rounding Unit so that teachers can see! I am SO HAPPY with what I have created and wish I was able to go back and teach it! Oh, and FYI… these units are ALL aligned to the new Math TEKS for 2014 as well as Common Core State Standards.

Off to check out all the great things linked up for Monday Made It this week!

Monday Made It

Fit for some FLAIR!

Do you remember growing up and seeing the waiters and waitresses at TGI Friday’s who wore suspenders filled with flair? And then when Facebook originally started there was an app that you could add flair to each others wall? Yep, I’m a little ADDICTED to flair and I love to have some quirky flair in my life!

Math Button Bundle

For the recent Conference for the Advancement of Math Teachers I created 5 new buttons that I had never before created for other conferences. I ended up having some extras and wanted to let others that have a LOVE of FLAIR enjoy them in their lives as well… this means YOU!

Gee Im A Tree Buttons

There is a style for just about everyone!  Just click on any of the pics and you will be directed to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can grab some today. Each button is 1″ in diameter and looks cute attached to your lanyard, on a bulletin board, or even with a magnet added to the back and added to your board!

Inspired Math Buttons

Nerd 4 Life Buttons

Pirate Buttons

This Girl Loves Math Buttons

Grab some for you, for a friend or for a fellow teacher buddy! They are the perfect little gift.

Shh, but I may just be bringing some to my Judson workshop next week to giveaway!

Setting Goals for the New School Year

Goal Setting in the Classroom

Every year growing up I remember setting goals in my classes to help guide me through the school year. I don’t remember taking time to reflect on these goals often growing up but when I started with my own classroom it was the first thing that I wanted to continue. Not only did I want to continue to make goals but I wanted to use them to help communicate with my students and parents.

During the first week of school I always talk with my students about the importance of goals. Setting goals give us a direction to follow for the year. As a teacher these goals allow me to see into my student’s minds a bit more. Where do they want to succeed? Where do they see that they might need that extra PUSH this school year?

My students use part of their first few pages of their Interactive Notebooks to do this activity. I want them to be able to refer to them through the year. After reading through students goals it gives me some insight into them as well as the ability to conference with them throughout the year. If I see something slipping I can easily bring this up as a goal that they set in the beginning of the year and then create an action plan for them to help bring them back on track.

For me it is all about letting the students make the choices and helping guide them in the right direction. Do you let your students set goals in your classroom? How do you follow through with them? 

Book Study: Good Questions for Math Teaching- Algebraic Thinking, Data Analysis and Measurement

jamie and jenn

I’m excited to be back this week to share with you more about Good Questions for Math Teaching: Why Ask Them and What to Ask in Grades 5-8 by Lainie Schuster and Nancy Canavan Anderson (link below on picture of book).

If you missed my last post covering What Are Good Questions and How Do We Create Them, check it out first! Also, if you haven’t ready Jamie’s post from last week on Fractions, Decimals and Percents mixed with Geometry check it out as well!

Chapter 9 is all about Algebraic Thinking and starts with a pretty profound statement, “When we ask students to think algebraically, we are asking them to formalize patterns, analyze change, understand functions and move fluently between multiple representations of data sets.”  Doesn’t that relate to all areas of math? We are always formalizing patterns and representations of data whether we formally realize we are doing it or not.

Having students make predictions in all areas of math is a form of algebraic thinking that doesn’t force them into a formal algebra lesson or activity. When we as teachers ask the “good questions” we spark their want to dive further. Computational practice is important but it is even more important to have our students understand the meaning behind what they are doing.

Mathematical processing standards guide our students to justify their thinking and connect their thinking to prior knowledge. THis can be done at any and all grade levels if done systematically.

Chapter 10 related Data Analysis and Probability with appropriate questioning. Why are good questions important when students are discovering the concepts of Data and Probability? Students must reflect on the actions that are occurring to be able to understand the probability (or chance) in their daily lives.

Data Analysis and Probability is EXTREMELY visual! Not only should students be drawing their thoughts via charts, graphs or number lines but also writing out their thinking. This is where open-ended questions that truly make students think are important.

Incorporating manipulatives is important to help build the visuals in students minds as well… dice, dominoes, marbles, number tiles, spinners, decks of cards and so much more can be used.

And finally we come to Chapter 11 which covers one of the most important areas (in my opinion) that we as teachers need to cover with students. Measurement is a struggle for many and it continues to be a weakness for students throughout the years no matter what grade I have taught.

Questions for measurement need to not only require students to measure but also make connections to what they are measuring and prior knowledge. Measurement can easily be connected to geometry, number systems and analyzing data and therefore we can continue to enforce other skills.

So as to not give too much away, I would suggest that you all grab this book if you are looking for some solid foundations on building on concepts in your 5th-8th grade classroom. The last 5 chapters cover the different strands of mathematics and give strategies on how to stimulate these concepts to be understood with students in your classroom.

Book Study Questions

Don’t miss out on this book. It has definitely changed some of my thinking on how to guide my students to achieve their own success through asking the right questions.

book study large