Monday, July 27, 2015

Interactive Notebooks in ELA when a teacher goes techy

I know what you're thinking.  "Not another interactive notebook post!"  Trust me, I know.  I've been using "interactive" student notebooks (ISN) for years, every year something different.  I have a pinterest board with 212 pins, JUST about interactive notebooks!  Maybe the world is ready to get rid of them by now and ride the digital wave.  Then again, maybe not.

I'm a techy teacher (#hpselead), but I also know the value of holding paper in my hand or jotting notes down in my own squirrely cursive and doodles.  So, yet again, this year my "interactive" student notebooks will be changing.

<Tech>First, I have begged my principal to let me go to online writing portfolios.  I hate all that filing of chicken-scratch, stapled-5-times, paperclips-falling-out, no-real-scope-&-sequence--YUCK!  It takes additional time to file and RE-file (4 times per year) those manila folders in the workroom.  Why can't I just send you a link and you can look at any sample you want at your convenience?  NO MORE pre-writing, drafting, editing, final drafting, peer editing, really-this-is-the-final-copy in my ISN's.  I can app-smash all that together online anyway. (that's a whole other post.). 

<Low-tech>Secondly, my students have struggled (for years) to keep up with the table of contents in their notebooks. Some students do it, but most do not.  Some skip pages when explicitly told not to.  I have even tried to start at the front AND back at the same time with different categories--oy vey!  This year, I came across a pin that recommended doing UNIT tables of contents--eureka!  We can stay together on the same page, no matter what class, and label as we go!  I have fallen in love with creating my own tabs with my Cricut Expression, but I'm just going to use the copier this year.  (I did purchase some bright colored paper, though!) The tabs I created for this year's notebook go across the top of the first RIGHT page of a new unit. The first LEFT page will be for Activating Prior Knowledge (APK) of the subject. Notice there are two different sizes--regular spiral and composition notebooks.

<Low-tech meets Tech>Here is where it gets a bit sticky.  I'm going to try to #flip my vocabulary lessons this year.  I'll send them a link to a video or slideshow (yay for tech!), and when students come into class, they will have to complete an activity in their ISN (yay for differentiated low-tech!).  For those who don't have access to the viewing at home, they can catch up quickly in class and then complete the activity. I'll have "high flyer" work for students who complete the activity quickly, of course.  I'll also have all resources, cut-outs, and activities posted to our Google Classroom site.  If any student is absent, they can see what they missed, and go over it as many times as they need to.

Last, but not least, is how I'm going old-school ISN.  I have never done the "Right-side=teacher input, Left side=student output".  We've taken the notes and made each page our own.  This year, I AM going old school.  Yes, we will have sides.  Yes, students will be "graded" on their OUTPUT, not my input.  I am wary of the typical middle schooler reactions, "But I can't draw!" "I'm not an artist!" "Do I have to?"  Yes, you have to, and all you have to do is TRY to put it into a format YOU understand.

I will be happy to find an ISN middle-ground between "I'm all tech" and "Students need something in their hands".  I hope this year is it!

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