Note Taking and Interactive Notebooks
Interactive notebooks enable students to organize, process information and develop life-long
study skills. Using the left and right sides of the notebook fosters active engagement in the
learning process. The LEFT side of the notebooks students explore diverse methods of
demonstrating learning through graphic organizers, poems, charts, etc. The RIGHT side is
for the TEACHER INPUT information of classroom notes, presentations, and other
information. For students, teachers and parents, the interactive notebook becomes
a portfolio of the student's learning and growth during the year. Students and parents
are able to review assignments and new learning concepts as well as student grades,
thinking, writing, illustrations, and organizational skills. Student interactive notebooks
are graded. A "master" copy of the notebook is in the classroom for students to review
due to absences or if they should misplace their notebook.
Learning study skills and taking notes is an acquired skill. Students who develop these
skills increase their learning curve and will have more positive assessment results. The
following internet links are for teachers, parents, and students who want to pursue
this topic further and provide resources for note taking skills, graphic organizers,
notepaper, and more.
http://interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com - this site will lead you to
many other links and provide information about the positive features of interactive
http://www.eleven21.com/notetaker Cornell notes page
page has many links for using diverse note taking and organizational templates from
the Tucson Unified School District.
subject areas are represented with lots of interactive notebook resources.
http://eduscapes.com/sessions/smartboard/ -Interactive notebooks,
Smartboards, and more.
http://www.IRNcorp.com If you want interactive notebook activities
already made for ANY subject, check out this site. Although many of
the notebooks are based on the Virginia SOLS, content for topic is pretty
If you are a social studies/history/government teacher, you may want to visit
the web site for HISTORY ALIVE (also GOVERNMENT ALIVE). I have used the History
Alive social studies for fifth grade American history and will use Government Alive this
year. The learning activities are engaging and the interactive notebook for students
is a wonderful tool. If you have never incorporated an interactive notebook in your
classroom, this would be the place to start since the materials, directions, and resources
are excellent and quite complete. All are kid and teacher friendly.
Here are some starting points and organization ideas for beginning interactive notebooks
with students in any subject area. Two important things to remember are:
1. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL all that you want students to do.
2. Keep a "demo" or "master" notebook of all of the notebook's components
you expect students to have in their notebooks in the classroom.
Interactive notebooks have a RIGHT and LEFT SIDE. Here is an example of what
these pages would look like as students provide INPUT AND OUTPUT.
What do you need?
I have used a 5-subject spiral notebook, a 3-ring binder, and pocket folders with
brads (one for each SOL or unit). The choice you make is personal based on your own
preferences, classroom management style, or age of student. The notebooks are used
EACH DAY and may be kept in the classroom or brought with the students to class each
day. Additional materials include, pencils, pens, highlighters (no markers), colored
pencils (or crayons), scissors, glue, and a pocket or file folder stapled into the
notebook for work in progress.
The first week of school offers time to get students into the notebook, create
pages, learn organizational skills, and classroom expectations. Since each page of the
notebook is NUMBERED, students can begin with this process. Model the numbering
process as students are completing the pages. The amount of time devoted to this stage
depends on the age of the students and what form of notebook you are using. If you
are adding a few pages at a time, then number throughout the year. The following
represents the first five to ten pages of the student notebook
1. Cover Page - students create a personal cover page that reflects the subject, topic
2. Expectations and Notebook Criteria - whatever your expectations for the year
are for student notebooks should be glued on the next page.
3. Table of Contents - Topic, assignments, dates - use a table set up to create one.
4. Author page - Students can create a page about themselves using scrap booking
materials, photos, etc. I usually have them include their ideas about the subject they will
study in class or what they want to learn.
5. Grading - what your grading criteria will be for the notebooks
6. Assessment Scores - form that includes date, assessment name, score- charted
7. Communication Form - for home-school notes
8. Assignment Log or Calendar
2 examples from SOL 5e Voter Requirements Virginia
Students used information from the INPUT side of their notes and created
brochures for voter registration in Virginia.
Voting Brochure for Virginia
Foldable for Declaration of Independence
(Ideas, Arguments, Complaints, Conclusion)
INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK - EXPOSITORY TEXT
The following pictures are examples of an interactive notebook for students to remember
how to read, understand, and gather information from expository text. These examples
were created by fourth grade students in my reading resource room class.
My second and third grade reading resource students read a book about a fish tank (Reading A-Z).
Here are their interactive notebook examples of information organization and summarization.
INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK - SENSORY IMAGES
Students in my fourth grade resource reading class were reading expository
text about coal mining. The text was a integration of their phonics study
of the long vowel combination /oa/. The text for reading I wrote based
on primary documents/letters/files. The pictures that they used were
primary documents. They developed an awareness of point of view and
interpretation by creating a sensory image of a breaker boy who worked
in the coal mines. The components of a sensory model was created as
a whole group.
Quick draw model
Student examples after reading the story I wrote about the breaker boys.
Students also used primary sources (pictures, maps) about coal mining and
interpreted the information from the text to explain the pictures.
SPANISH EXPLORATION - SENSORY IMAGES AND NOTE TAKING
These examples are representations of the output side of the interactive
notebooks for a unit about Spanish exploration. If you are a Virginia
teacher, the unit for Spanish exploration for USI is on the main menu
page. Arizona teachers - the unit is integrated into early exploration ofArizona
Students created a note taking organizer and sensory images
representing cultural interactions and changes.
Pictures of our interactive notebooks and foldable books about the Alamo will be added
this month (March).
Additional information and pictures will be coming soon..
B.Sarah Froehlich, 2008, 2009, 2010