It seems as if interactive notebooks are all the rage right now. Other related buzz words might include interactive journals, INB’s, flip flaps, flippables…all pretty much the same thing. An interactive notebook is a student-created notebook that involves activities that allow the child to interact with the skill, paper, and peers. They can be an amazing instructional tool to help teach math, reading, science, and social studies topics.
Unfortunately, I have heard interactive notebooks being referred to as an art project, glorified worksheet or a cutesy activity. I have to cringe when I hear these comparisons because, if incorporated correctly, interactive notebooks can transform the learning that takes place in your classroom. If done correctly, interactive notebooks can deepen your students understanding and knowledge of skills, all while motivating and engaging them.
Guest Post by Angie Olson from Lucky Little Learners
Interactive notebooks are not JUST a flip flap. They can be used as a means of interacting with the paper, the skill being taught or practiced, and their peers. All three components are what make these notebook activities interactive. Let’s start with the interaction of the paper. Yes, pretty basic interaction and yet, a lot of value.
Interactive notebook activities usually consist of a paper tool that is interactive or moveable. Some examples of this might be flip flaps, spinners, and pockets. The interactive and moveable component of interactive notebook activities can be highly engaging and motivating. It also lends itself nicely to peer teaching, which I will get to later in the post. Please keep in mind that this is not the only justification to what would make an activity “interactive”. Have I simply used a worksheet with my students and then glued them into their notebook, yes, but most of the time, no. So why do I use the interactive notebook if we are doing a worksheet? The answer is simple, my students use their interactive notebooks as a portfolio of topics learned. They also serve as a reference throughout the year. Here are some examples of what these interactive activities can look like.
Another piece of what makes interactive notebooks interactive is the interaction with the skill. There is an input and output side to an interactive notebook. Although some teachers think differently, at a primary level, I don’t feel that it matters which side the student places their input and output information.
The input side would be the side that the student works on when their teacher gives an assignment. That is the side that involves the cut and glue activity. As the student works through their input side, they use the knowledge gained from the lesson and activity to provide information for the output side. This is the part that some teachers struggle with but it doesn’t have to be complicated. I have included some examples of what the output side can look like after completion of the input activity.
In this particular input/output example, the student is working with their ruler to measure line segments. The student applied what he/she knew about measuring and ruler skills to demonstrate their understanding and made a house out of line segments. Each line segment was measured and labeled with the correct measurement to the nearest 1/2 inch.
This input/output example is a little different than your traditional input/output because the input is the information that is on the outside of the flip flap and the output is the student’s demonstration of learning through the variety of examples that is underneath. I love to examine each student’s output because it gives you an authentic and genuine understanding of where they are at with the skill.
Here is a sums of ten input activity in which the student had to look at the ten frame, determine the missing addend, and write the addition sentence under the flip flap. Prior to this activity, my students received a mini lesson where I created a sums of ten anchor chart using a rainbow to connect the two numbers. This student took my anchor chart and made her own mini anchor chart. What a great output visual and reference!
The last example I am using is from a Missing Parts input activity that I do with my students. On each flip flap is a part part whole mat that is missing one of the parts. The students had to determine the missing part and write the related subtraction sentences to go with the problem. The output side was simply making their own problems and solving. My students that demonstrated a higher level of understanding showed me subtraction problems using two or three digit problems and my struggling students would use one digit problems.
Here are some more examples of input and output activities that can be done through the use of interactive notebooks.
The last component of interactive notebooks is interacting with peers. There is so much power in having students share what they know with their peers. Throughout the year, my students have the opportunity to share their interactive notebooks with each other. Sometimes it is the skill that they are working on that day and sometimes it is an old skill that I would like them to review. We have also shared these notebooks with our 4th grade buddy class.
When parent-teacher conferences roll around, I love the fact that I do not need to save worksheets or tests. My students are responsible for sharing their notebook with their parents. Prior to conferences I will place some sticky notes on pages that I want to make sure to highlight and discuss. It is a great opportunity to truly show where their child started, how they’ve grown, the specific areas that need to be worked on, and current mastery level.
It has been a pleasure and honor to write this guest blog post for Emily. I love sharing topics that I am passionate about. Thank you for reading!
Angie Olson is a second grade teacher in Minnesota. She has taught for ten years and has taught grades kindergarten, first and second grade. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University with an emphasis in pre-primary to sixth grade. In 2007, she went back to school and earned her master’s degree in Mathematics from Bemidji State University. She has been blogging and selling on Teachers Pay Teachers for the past two years. She loves connecting with other educators. You can find her on Facebook, Lucky Little Learners Blog, and Teachers Pay Teachers.