Guest Post by Keri from Enchanted Kinder Garden
HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS
Since I teach kindergarten, my experience is working with the younger kids. I’ve got a few tips on how to differentiate interactive notebooks in your classrooms!
DIFFERENTIATE THE TASKS’ OUTCOME
This is one of the activities that I am able to easily differentiate for my students! This six flap can be used for a variety of lessons. This particular one is used during my living things unit. After we’ve discussed what a living thing is and how it survives, we need to think about how different types of animals survive. I have six animals listed. Some students can write what each animal needs to survive. If you have a student that has difficulty writing, allow that student to draw a picture. Some students love putting their thoughts into a sentence. Let those students write a sentence.
DIFFERENTIATE ACTIVITIES THROUGH THEIR INTERESTS
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be graced with one of the sweetest boys! I’ve had a lot of sweet boys, but this one had a few extra quirks about him that I just LOVED. He was in obsessed with DINOSAURS. He knew the names of every single kind. He pronounce them each perfectly. He could tell me ALL there was to know. Did I know anything about dinosaurs? Goodness NO!
I had the hardest time getting him to read that year. He seemed attentive. He was never talking when I was teaching. He played all of our math games. He sat quietly when I was reading, but he was missing something from me. I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t get excited about anything. Then, one day I pulled out a book about dinosaurs. He ASKED so many questions about that book that day. From that day on, I made sure that whatever his task was that the outcome would relate to dinosaurs in some way.
For example, when we were learning about subtraction, I made his story problems all about dinosaurs. He was more excited to write subtraction stories about 5 dinosaurs than he was about 2 puppy dogs. The entire class is working on the same skill. However, I’ve made his learning interest be reflected in his work. This didn’t ALWAYS work in my favor, but when they thought was planted in my mind, it was always there as a go to option to make sure that he would be as engaged as possible.
This KWL chart is one way to engage students through their interests. As they’re reading books of interests, allow them to use the same chart to show their pre-reading knowledge, questions that they have and to show what they’ve comprehended and learned. You may have 5 KWLs on frogs, 2 about unicorns, 6 on spider monkeys and one on dinosaurs. Is the task complete? Yes. Did everyone do the same type of thinking? Yes. If the outcome different? Yes and that’s okay. This wouldn’t work in instances where you want the students to learn a particular topic.
DIFFERENTIATE THE PACE OF INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT
The pace is also easily differentiated. I can easily change how quickly I need to assess a student. If I know that 1/4 of my students have learning something new, I can informally assess them through their interactive notebooks. When I want to assess a very small group of my students even though we will all be using the same activity, I place them around the room so that they are essentially working alone. I can easily tell if they are applying their new information by what is in their interactive notebooks.
This type of differentiation also drives my instruction and guides the pacing of my lesson plans. I can quickly flip through each of my student’s notebooks at the end of the day or when they finish. At an eye’s glance, I can tell whether I need to reteach or move on to the next topic. If my kids are confused and not getting the content, I can slow down my instructions. Sometimes differentiating has nothing to do with the students and has a lot to do with my teaching. As teachers, we can also change our instruction to meet the needs of our students. At the end of the day, it’s so much easier to cater to each child instead of reteaching over and over again.
KEEPING INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS MANAGEABLE WHEN DIFFERENTIATING
I have three of these. I am so random that sometimes I forget to bring it back to school or take it home which has caused me to have three. One is pretty full. This is the EASIEST way to manage what you already have available. Even though you can look through your digital files and “see” the flaps and the folds, you see it in an entirely different way when it’s glued in a notebook or when you can feel the fold in your hand. I suggest that every teacher that uses interactive notebooks in their classroom, start a “preview” notebook.
This is one of the pages from my notebook. I make sure that when I print something off it:
- fits in the notebook
- is large enough for my kinders to manipulate
- is easy enough for my kinders to cut (I like large cuts that have corners.)
- is meaningful and worth their time
- can be referred back to
If I am okay with the activity for all of the above reasons, I use it with my kids. When I make it first, I figure out how they should hold it when gluing in, which piece they should glue, and many other things. It helps me when I introduce a new flap or a new way to write out our learning. Next year when I get ready to teach living things or five senses, I can open up my notebook and use the one that I’ve already made to show my kids. This will also help in my planning. I can look back at what I did in years’ past and either use it again or try to improve an activity. I also write on the back of each activity if something did or didn’t work. I like to write how my kids’ responded in some of their notebooks as well. For instance, if we’re working on sorting objects by the number and my students mix all of their sixes for nines, I will write that down to go over reversals more the next year.
The preview book is essentially my Bible for interactive notebooks. My kids make their own throughout the year to refer back to and I make mine to refer back to every year.
Those are my THREE really simple and easy tips for differentiating instruction, plus a HUGE managing tip for you to keep it easy. If you have some ways that you LOVE using with interactive notebooks, let me know! I’m always looking for more ways to help my students through interactive notebooks. Thanks so much for checking out this post! Here’s a FREEBIE to get you started with some editable science notebook covers.