Dr. Baros is a dedicated researcher, educator, and LGBTQ advocate. Her areas of expertise are proficiency-based language teaching and creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ students and people.
(Click here for my previous posts on Interactive notebooks, including my plans and experiences from last year.)
After giving Interactive Notebooks a shot last year and considering how they failed, I've decided to have another go at them. However, I've made some strategic changes to avoid the problems we encountered next year. The biggest issue was inserting materials into the notebook. As long as students were simply copying down information, they worked great and never had to search for notes since I could tell them exactly where to find them. However, I have a lot of handouts for reference, and that's where I ran into troubles. After some experimenting, here's what I've decided to do:
Students will have a combination of a 1" Binder (with a pocket in the front and back) and Interactive Notebook composition book. Handouts and loose leaf paper (for quizzes) will be organized into the binder, while notes will go into the notebook. The composition book will go into the pocket of the binder (this is why I want a 1" binder instead of 1/2"). Thus, the binder is a kind of "Appendix" for the notebook and I know exactly where students should be looking for items without either of them getting too crammed. They can even write references on worksheets (see page so-and-so in IN) and annotate notes to refer to handouts.
I will specify this year that the comp book MUST be 100 sheets and standard size (this was an issue last year, especially when you're trying to tell students to put certain items on certain pages). Because this notebook is strictly for notes, and the binder is for the items that are handed in/out, the set-up will be simple. I'm trying to decide whether I should even take class time to have them do it or just assign the set-up as homework (I'm leaning toward the latter and making it due at the end of the first week):
Sometimes I wonder if this is too much and if I should just stick to a binder, but then I remember what it was like trying to keep track of notes that I took and getting them mixed in (or never put in) with all the paper in my own binder. Hopefully, this will at least make it possible to keep all the notes they take organized and, in the worst case scenario, students will only lose the handouts that I make available online for them to print anyway. I will be checking their reading journals at the end of each semester, so I may as well go ahead and flip through the entire notebook and make that part of their grade (one of my class goals is for students to prepare themselves for their futures by taking accurate notes and keeping materials organized, so it's justified!). I'll post pictures and reactions as we get to it. I'm feeling fairly confident this will work for us!
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