General Science and Teaching

Integrating Interactive Notebooks

This is my second year using interactive notebooks and I'm wondering if anyone else has problems getting students (and co-teachers) to buy into the concept. I've spent more time up front this year modeling how to do them. I'm still walking students through the process every time we add a new set of notes. I really like the fact that the notebooks help keep the kids organized and provide an opportunity for reflection. I'm the only teacher in my department to use these and I get the impression the other two teachers feel as if it's a waste of time and energy. I'm attempting to provide more opportunities for my students to reflect (and write) over things we have done in class in preparation for the Common Core. Am I just wasting my time with this?

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4715 Activity Points

I love interactive science notebooks, and I have used them all seven years of my teaching. I also use right-hand side teacher input and left-hand side student output as my means of organizing their work. I also plan my lessons using the 5e learning cycle model, and I find the interactive notebooks a great elaborate activity, as students are required to either relate what they are learning to something in their lives or demonstrate their understanding of the concept at a higher level. I also have use them within the explain phase, as students either take notes into their notebook or develop foldables, which are glued into their notebooks to help them gain an understanding on the concept. I have attached my collection on science notebooks to this thread. There are also several good books in the NSTA Book Store. Welcome to Interactive Science Notebooking!!!


Science Notebooks Collection
(12 items)
An Interactive Lecture Notebook—Twelve Ways to Improve Students’ Grades: Drawing Students’ Attention to What They need to Know in Lecture
     -Journal Article
Student-Centered Notebooks
     -Journal Article
Project Notebook
     -Journal Article

Susanne Hokkanen
Susanne Hokkanen
79045 Activity Points

I feel that interactive notebooks can work if the teacher is dedicated and believes in the effectiveness. If the teacher is not confident, they will not go the extra mile to make the notebooks a good experience. Remembering to write in the notebooks-- and having the students write and paste in meaningful information and items is essential to the success of the notebooks. Essentially, if the teacher thinks they are a waste of time, then they will inevitably be a waste of time. Just a thought...

Stefani Coats
Stefani Coats
2900 Activity Points

I don't think it is a waste of time at all. I feel that there are so many different things that you can do with the interactive notebooks. It's a great way for students to reflect about their learning, and good for the teacher as well because you can use it as a formative assessment of the students knowledge on the concept they are learning about.

Paola Hernandez
Paola Hernandez
1885 Activity Points

No, I think interactive notebooks are great way for students to reflect back on their work throughout the year. I have seen students refer back to their notebooks to remember what they have done previously. I definitely keep using them and just to remember to use them everyday so that way the students will get into a habit of just using them.

Brianna Del Bosque
Brianna Del Bosque
2230 Activity Points

I was the only one in my building to use notebooks also, and sometimes that was inconvenient. However, it DOES teach students how to organize information, and it Does provide them with a safe place to think about what they are learning and communicate that knowledge without being labeled a geek. My students and I would sometimes have conversations about topics through the notebooks, as well as they provided me with additional insights on alternative conceptions my students might have. Don't give up. While (I totally agree!) it would be nice to have moral support closer to home, WE are here for you! :)

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

My major issue with using a spiral or composition books for the one main science notebook is that a child who is absent for a short or prolonged period can't easily add in the information missed when they return to school. That is why I keep returning to the 3 ring binder which can have pages added. Any suggestions? Robin

Robin Willig
Robin Willig
5625 Activity Points

I myself would love to use interactive notebooks more, however I haven't found a good resource to explain to me how best to utilize them! the one time I tried using them we spent the entire lesson getting the notebook set up, so the only learning that actually took place was how to set up a notebook! Arg...if you have any suggestions for me that would be great! I say you continue using the notebooks!!

Chelsea Hunt
Chelsea Hunt
780 Activity Points

This response is for Robin Willig. I use marble composition books for science journals. I have no issue adding sheets by using colorful Duck Tape to attach inside the notebook. The kids love it and it reminds them that they may need to review that section.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
85949 Activity Points

Definitely not! I have used interactive notebooks for my own college classes (I'm currently a student teacher), and even I have found it extremely helpful. It's a great way to organize my notes and what I learn or do in class. I have also seen it being used in a third grade classroom and when the teacher asked them about something they learned previously, they were able to go back to the page they wrote their notes on and answer her question if they did not remember. I think it's a great tool to have in the classroom and plan to use it when I become a teacher.

Y-La Nguyen
Y-La Nguyen
600 Activity Points

Try to use activities in your Science Interactive Notebook that are more hands-on.  My students love their notebook!

Janice Klein
Janice Weber-Klein
55 Activity Points

I am a new teacher and do not have any advice, but I wondered if you could write more about the reflective writing your students do in their interactive notebooks. I think it could be so useful for my students.

Megan Rawson
Megan Rawson
50 Activity Points

We glue pieces of work that they did well on (I.E. a test, lab assignment, homework assignment) into the left side of their notebook. Then students write two paragraphs reflecting how they did. For example, they describe the objective of the learning assignment, what they did well on, and how they could improve it. I require at least two paragraphs for this "mini" reflection. At the end of each quarter students choose four pieces of work from their notebook. to create a quarterly reflection of their progress in science. This reflection is usually seven or more paragraphs. We spend time in class editing and revising for a finished product.

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4715 Activity Points

My class is going to use interactive notebooks this year and I am working with a co-teacher as well. I can let you know how my experience goes. I think they are a great idea and hope they are successful!

Kathryn Fossaceca
Kathryn Fossaceca
1095 Activity Points

I am a pre-service teacher and I have always wanted to do interactive notebooks. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Beth Dather
Beth Dather
3950 Activity Points

I have been using interactive science notebooks in my classroom for years now (first when I taught biology and now in my IGCSE chemistry and AP chemistry classes). I keep the structure of the notebooks very organized, input on one side and student output on the other. For example, on p. 18 we had notes on diffusion and on page 19, the students had to complete a processing assignment demonstrating their understanding of diffusion. The processing assignment has a visual component (students drawing a model to show the process of diffusion) as well as a written reflection. Students at my school have bought into the notebooks because they appreciate that everything is easy to find and that they have the opportunity to choose how they demonstrate their understanding for some topics instead of just the traditional lecture-> worksheet -> lab sequence. A math colleague who also uses interactive notebooks in her classroom and I approached our administration and asked if we could share more information to our staff on interactive notebooks and their use in the classroom. Three workshop sessions later and now my school has more than 10 teachers all implementing the interactive notebooks in science, ELA, fine arts, and even sports medicine. There are some great articles here in the Learning Center that can be shared with science colleagues to show them the benefits and research behind the interactive notebooks. I have attached them here. Keep doing what you are doing and share your enthusiasm. The students will catch on that the notebooks really do help them and your colleagues might get curious. Good luck!

Marelis Rivera
Marelis Rivera
2185 Activity Points

No you are not wasting your time. I believe it's a great thing to us. Students will look back into this and realize their notes help them improve or study for an exam. In college, I use one.....on the left it's for my creative thoughts and on the right it would be for notes, lectures, and stuff. In a elementary classroom, they would use it to write down what they learned in their classroom. It would be a great way to keep them busy and also having something they can look back when they forgot what something is or means.

Samira Parhizkar
Samira Parhizkar
1930 Activity Points

Thank you for all of the great advice! It's good to know that other teachers have found them beneficial in upper level science courses as well as the lower grade levels. I will definitely keeping chugging along. Especially after checking out the amazing journal links that everyone has shared!

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4715 Activity Points

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on interactive notebooks. I am currently a student teacher and we are using them in our college classes as well. I found them to be challenging because it was a different approach to taking notes. This is my second year using interactive notebooks and I find that although the process is still challenging, I am retaining the material on a much deeper level. I have also held onto all of my past notebooks and find myself continually referencing and revising them.

Kristin Zama
Kristin Zama
3225 Activity Points

Up until last year I had never heard of an interactive notebook, we used them in a few of my college classes. I'm excited to be able to use them in my classroom because I can see how they help students retain the material.

Amber Culpepper
Amber Culpepper
4355 Activity Points

I am a student teacher and we are using interactive notebooks in several of our courses. I think that once the students get the hang of them, they are very useful tools. One of our professors provided us with a guide to show us how she wanted the notebook set up, this we can use as a reference when we need it. I can't wait to use this tool in my classroom!

Adriana Lopez
Adriana Lopez
2655 Activity Points

I am also a college student in my student teaching. Like many of the previous post we have started using interactive notebooks in some of our courses. They are a ton of work, but I do feel that at the end of the unit or semester, I have retained more information taught in the course, then if I had just taken normal class notes. I do feel that there needs to be a great deal of modeling and instruction untill students feel comfortable with INs. Even I get confused on what information goes where and of course every teacher is different. I would also like to use INs in my classroom and thankfully since I have learned how to use one I can already see some of the problems and time restrictions that may arise and I can hopefully address those when I start using them. I say if you want to use them, Do It! INs or Journals are only a waste of time if you never use them or go back and look through them.

Destiny Huggins
Destiny Huggins
9940 Activity Points

You make a good point. I suspect that sometimes teachers and students focus more on the structure of the notebook (what goes where) than on how to use the notebook for reference, review, reflection.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7915 Activity Points

I am a science Coach and I have to oversee the use of interactive notebooks. I think they are a wonderful way to keep the classwork organized and it becomes a great resource when studying for a test, but Unfortunately not all teachers buy into this. i agree with the teacher that says that is teachers do not see them as valuable then they will be a waste of time, that is why I don't think teachers should be mandated to do them. The teachers that take the time to think about what will go in the journals ahead of time and check student work (using a rubric) tend to have an easier time. Also it is important to give the students meaningful feedback based on their work, not just write Great! or Awesome! We try to make fun activities in their journals as well, for example we create many foldables where students write vocabulary words and add illustrations, or mind maps and other graphic organizers. Although most upper grade teachers use the right side left side, I don't recommend that for the early grades as it requires them to write in the right side first (input) and do the left side later. This can be confusing in the early grades when children are learning to read and are still getting the concept that we read from left to right.

Maria Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez
3880 Activity Points

I am a science Coach and I have to oversee the use of interactive notebooks. I think they are a wonderful way to keep the classwork organized and it becomes a great resource when studying for a test, but unfortunately not all teachers buy into this. I agree with the teacher that says that if teachers do not see them as valuable, then they will be a waste of time. For this reason I don't think teachers should be mandated to do them. The teachers that take the time to think about what will go in the journals ahead of time, and check student work (using a rubric) tend to have an easier time. Also it is important to give the students meaningful feedback based on their work, not just write Great! or Awesome! We try to make fun activities in their journals as well, for example we create many foldables where students write vocabulary words and add illustrations, or mind maps and other graphic organizers. Although most upper grade teachers use the right side left side, I don't recommend that for the early grades as it requires them to write in the right side first (input) and do the left side later. This can be confusing in the early grades when children are learning to read and are still getting the concept that we read from left to right.

Maria Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez
3880 Activity Points

I use my own version of the interactive science notebook/lab notebook. I use one composition notebook for labs, notes, foldables, science fair, activities, vocabulary, etc... The left-side and right-side version did not work for me but I do like having all of their work in one place and I do give them feedback and progress grades. I believe this helps them to stay organized and have ownership of their work. It is also great for studying. Stephanie

Stephanie Anderson
Stephanie Anderson
375 Activity Points

The left-right didn't work for me, either, so what I did was we would set aside at least one entire page for each project/ set of notes, etc for their input, sketches, etc. I am one of those people who is constantly seeking organization, but like a carrot on a stick, it is always just out of my reach - this was my compromise. But I love interactive notebooks as a way to have one-on-one communication with students as well as help them to learn to organize thoughts and concepts!

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

I am in student teaching right now and I see my cooperating teacher using it in our 3rd grade classroom. In my observation kids see interactive notebooks mostly as somekind of art activity rather than a reflection journal. I would also love to know more about how to integrate these notebooks in an efficient way in a science class.

Ruchi Sharma
Ruchi Sharma
1290 Activity Points

I do not think interactive notebooks are a waste of time at all! All the notes, worksheets, foldable's, students thinking, and so on are in the interactive notebook. You do not have to worry about anything getting lost, the students can just glue everything in their notebook. You should have the students create a table of contents page so they know exactly what page a certain topic is on. Teachers can also take up the interactive notebook for a grade.

Sibnish Ali
Sibnish Ali
2570 Activity Points

I definitely agree with the benefits of incorporating Interactive Notebooks, in college we used them in the education program which enhanced my conception of the IN. Continue to use them as students will be able to reference them to study throughout the year as well as for future references

Connie Davidson
Connie Davidson
800 Activity Points

Thank for posting this information on Interactive Notebooks in the classroom. As a college student I have utilized these in many classrooms and was interested in how to implement IN into my future classroom. I feel like they have helped me stuey for tests and reflect on my own learning. Thank you again!

Chelsea Wessels
Chelsea Wessels
1585 Activity Points

Interactive journals are a great idea to get your students writing!

Lucia Martinez
Lucia Martinez
1145 Activity Points

From my experience both as a student and as a student teacher, interactive notebooks are very beneficial even if it seems like the students are completely lost and that the whole idea was a waste of time. Before the class starts using the notebooks, provide clear instructions on what the notebook is going to be used for, what to put in it, and where. If it helps, have a slide on overhead/Smartboard/Powerpoint that tells the students what they are going to put into their notebook during the course of the day. If they are capable, encourage them to organize the notebook however they wish, this might motivate them to be responsible of their own learning and manage their materials.

Celeste Galindo
Celeste Galindo
2620 Activity Points

This is the first semester I use interactive notebook in my class. At first, I thought it was a waste of time but now i find it very useful and resourceful. I believe it is all about how you use it that makes the difference if the students find it a good source.

Judy Machado
Judy Machado
5355 Activity Points

May have missed it but did anyone post student examples of student interactive notebooks. I did see the journal articles from NSTA, but I was hoping to view a collection of notebooks to get a long range look at the notebooks.

Lindsey Truxel
Lindsey Truxel
2060 Activity Points

I really like the idea of using interactive notebooks in science class. Although I never used them in any class as a child, I was introduced to them in college in my "Math in Elementary" course. They are very beneficial in which they hold students accountable for their own notes therefore their own learning, especially when the teacher frequently performs random checks to see how well they keep up with it. My instructor modeled a great way to use it in our own classrooms. There are many different things that you can teach your students to do in order to really make it "interactive" and best of all, students enjoy the fact that they can actually personalize it and make it unique!

Sandra Gonzalez
Sandra Gonzalez
960 Activity Points

I agree! I am currently a student teacher and I have found interactive notebooks to be beneficial for me even at the college level.

Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas
890 Activity Points

I feel like some of my students struggle to decide what should go on the right side of their notebook. Last year I started making right side worksheets (which was more like a mini-quiz) for them to use instead of coming up with their own ideas. I almost feel like this is giving them an "out" rather than encouraging them to think for themselves. Maybe I'm expecting too much for 7th graders?? Also, I love/hate the rubric I'm using for notebooks. I feel like it takes a big chunk of my time to collect notebooks and grade them. I'd like to do something that provides immediate feedback like stamps or checkpoints. Any suggestions on streamlining the grading/feedback process? I attached a copy of the current rubric that I'm using this year.

Attachments

Scoring_Guide.docx (0.02 Mb)

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4715 Activity Points

I am a Student Teacher and as part of our curriculum in our teaching courses we use interactive notebooks. In the school I student teach at I have noticed that yes, many teachers think that Interactive Notebooks are a waste of time. I can say that I have had very strict professors with the IN and they made the experience horrible. Other professors were more lenient and they made the IN experience for me better. I can understand that for children the liberty can be too much, but I think that if students have more choice and understand that input goes on the right and output goes on the left this will make IN work better for them. I am a huge believer in making things personal so that students can learn, connect and retain information. IN's are worth the effort if done right for students to learn.

Emily Rodriguez
Emily Rodriguez
885 Activity Points

Thank you all for your ideas on using interactive notebooks. It gives students more ownership of their learning, so I definitely think its worth the effort!!

Robin Willig
Robin Willig
5625 Activity Points

I have to say that I love interactive notebooks; they are a great tool to incorporate in the classroom. Last semester when I observed a dual language 4th grade classroom I was able to witness the power the interactive notebooks have in a science classroom. With the interactive notebooks students were able to reflect on their thinking and go back and review previous work. I have also used the interactive notebook for some of my college courses and I have to say that it is useful resource. The interactive notebook helped me retain information at a deeper level and was also useful when studying for midterms and finals. Although, it is a useful resource to use in class, it does require lots of work and time.

Ana Pena
Ana Pena
1245 Activity Points

I'm a student teacher. My guide teacher utilizes these in her class and it works really well. Over 60% of the class is English Learners, and the extra writing practice is really great. My students also have graphic organizers of important information available for them to reference.

Jill Dimitriou
Jill Dimitriou
445 Activity Points

All these ideas are great. Im doing field as well and some of these ideas would really help.

Larosa Etienne
larosa etienne
1220 Activity Points

I really like using science notebooks. I am currently student teaching in a fifth grade classroom, and the students use them all the time. They are especially helpful for the scientific concepts and terms that they are expected to know. I usually make a chart and students write the terms/diagrams in their journals. I often see them referring back to their notes in their notebooks during discussions when I ask questions. This also supports struggling students who may not remember the content, as they can go back to the journals and find the definitions they need. I have also seen these students participate in the discussions more often as they feel confident in what they have written.

Jerrica Millon
jerrica millon
340 Activity Points

I've decided to change up the way I use notebooks next year. We normally glue our notes on the left side and then students are expected to provide some sort of output activity on the right side that summarizes their understanding (or any questions) on the right side. The problem I've noticed over the past two years is students wait till the last moment, often the day I check the notebooks, to complete a output activity. I've attempted to remind them that the output activity is supposed to help them remember what we learned in class, especially before we take the assessment. I'm considering assigning them a task to complete for their output activity, but I feel like this is infringing on their creative ability. How do you have students demonstrate their knowledge in their notebooks? Maybe I should organize it differently?

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4715 Activity Points

This thread has inspired me to give my version of interactive notebooks a "go" in my 5th grade pre-engineering class. I try to give a wish (I'd like to see....) and a star (I like how you...) every week with a post it in each student's notebook. Even if I only have time for one quick comment I go to the last page and give some kind of encouragement. I can now go through a class set in 25 minutes (1 minute per notebook). As a result, my students are putting more details in their model diagrams, highlighting their modifications, and adding more quantitative data in their testing of their model. Assessing the notebooks after class frees me up to coach their process during class.

Robin Willig
Robin Willig
5625 Activity Points

I have tried to implement the interactive science notebooks for several years. However, when I have the students keep their information in anything other than a binder, nothing seems to go right and I become overwhelmed. How do you organize yourself so that you can monitor the notebooks regularly? I have approximately 150 students.

Kathy Jenkins
Kathy Jenkins
885 Activity Points

My students still use a 3 ring binder for handouts and notes, but I tried the interactive notebooks for the first time this year to use as a lab journal for engineering class. I put a post-it with a comment to get them "a star and a wish" every 1-2 weeks. This has helped them improve their diagrams, records of design modifications, and collection of testing data. I hope to keep working at it next year. Robin

Robin Willig
Robin Willig
5625 Activity Points

I am a pre-service teacher, so I haven't integrated interactive notebooks yet. However, I fully intend to do so when I begin teaching. I spent a few years pursuing my PhD in cancer biology and learned how important keeping an organized notebook is. It kept me accountable, gave me a place to insert my thoughts, allowed me to look back at previous experiments, and provided a timeline of my work. I think this practice reinforces some of the aspects of the nature of science. Scientists are required to keep notebooks to defend their work in the event that it is challenged. Students could benefit greatly from this practice, regardless of their future endeavors, as it teaches accountability and organization. Thanks for posting this! I truly enjoyed reading all of the responses!

Sara Johnson
Sara Johnson
415 Activity Points

I think that you are correct when you say that science notebooks help the students organize their thought, and in many different ways. It can also allow the students to predict or adjust their ideas throughout the lesson. 

Marissa LaMar
Marissa LaMar
380 Activity Points

Interactive note-booking in high school is necessary to increase students ability to organize and manage their thoughts. 

Danielle Moore
Danielle Moore
1770 Activity Points

I am finishing up my first semester of student teaching and we utilized science notebooks throughout the entire semester. We drew models, developed explanation, and reflected on everything we did. It was really nice to have everything in one place and have some ownership of it. I think these are great for the classroom and i will definitely be using these in my classroom one day! 

Laura Palermo
Laura Palermo
655 Activity Points

If worksheets and print outs or diagrams are continuously used in a classroom, is it still beneficial to have a science notebook?

Lauren Galindo
Lauren Galindo
375 Activity Points

Even with handouts, you can use science notebooks.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an actual notebook.  I like to use binders instead.  You can contain all your notes, assignments, and handouts in the same place.  It can work almost like a portfolio.  You could add extra individual projects for them to keep in their as well.  Works like a charm. 

Tina Campbell
Tina Campbell
20 Activity Points

I am a veteran high school Biology teacher, and I am interested in using interactive notebooks in my classroom.  I have attempted to use them previously without much success.  I prefer binders because I give my students graphic organizers and other handouts; however, they are bulky and cumbersome to collect and grade. Additionally, sometimes students lose the sheets.  Some of my colleagues use composition notebooks, but I feel that they are too small.  I am curious if anyone is currently using binders and if so how do you manage the collection, tracking, and grading?  Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Nichelle Williams
Nichelle Williams
2865 Activity Points

Hello, I think providing interactive science notebooks is not a waste of time. I feel by incorporating it, it would give students a sense of being investigators. I believe as long as it's use for interactive activities rather then just only notes, it would be a powerful tool. The notebook would allow students to go back and check what they have worked on as a refresher.

Alice Arrieta
Alice Arrieta
555 Activity Points

I do not think it is a waste of time if you truly believe it is helping your students. Everything should be for the best interest of the students. I think that if you share with your team how it is working in your classroom, and improvement you see they would probably invest more time and thought. I have seen interactive notebooks taken for granted as well. I think that if uses with consistency and structure they are definitely worth it.

Sandra Rubio
Sandra Rubio
785 Activity Points

I think that interactive notebooks are a great tool to use in the classroom. I think where the students lose focus, is when they feel that no one is looking at it. When students turn in assignments they know that someone will look at their work. I think that if you take the time weekly to do a interactive book check, they will feel the need to put in more effort. Many students are creative and do great things with their notebooks, it would be a great idea to give positive reinforcement by showing these books as examples or having two books a week that receive stickers. The books are a great tool, but the catch is to get the students interested in doing them.

Dinaz Lokhandwalla
Dinaz Lokhandwalla
1115 Activity Points

I do not think it is a waste of time at all! It is something students can benefit from when created, used, and implemented the correct way. It is also something that will take others to get used to if they have not heard about it before and do not use it in their own classroom. I think you should try to possibly bring up the idea during a PLC meeting or even shooting an email if anyone would like to try implementing the idea with you. Even for other grade levels, too. The sooner the students start using it the easier it will be when you receive new students and your former ones go to a new teacher because you will not have to walk them through how to work in them for every time.

Ayari San Luis
Ayari San Luis
1425 Activity Points

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