I'm working with two teachers in a content literacy project. They are planning to use an interactive student notebook approach to notetaking in their math classrooms. One has used the concept with her science classes for the last two years and has a wonderful foundation of understanding. She is already pushing our thinking, but wants some more specific examples of the reflection pieces in a math class. We are making connections to multiple representations, real-world connections, acronyms, etc. but are looking for some thinking outside the box. Does anyone have any insights or would anyone like to pursue this 'adventure' with us?
It's June and we are planning for use in August so this is a rather time sensitive question.
We know math teachers value note taking because we all do it with our students, but we also know that many teacher (almost ALL) will also say their students don't use their notes for anything. This approach to notetaking is an attempt to make the notes functional for our students. We are working with seventh grade teachers but would be really interested in sharing our thinking with others.

I look forward to hearing from others

Tags: interactive, note-taking, notebook, student, summarizing, synthesizing

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Thanks for sharing your work. Wow, great stuff. I love your examples, well thought out, clearly explained and documented with the pictures. I love your explanation of why you started notebooking. Also, liked your 'tweak' when you had more information than could be contained in one page in your 'Too Much Writing' post. Thanks!
Megan, Dianne and I (the people who started this discussion) are in the midst of writing an article about ISNs in the math classroom. We worked together to think through the framework this summer, and the two of them worked to implement with their students this last semester. By all accounts their notebooks were raging successes. I would love to get some input from you if you are interested in helping. What do you think was most effective about the ISNs in your classes? What would you like to be more effective? and How do you plan to make that aspect more effective next semester? What are two or three things you would recommend any teacher do before integrating the notebook approach with their classes?

Again, thanks for your sharing, and I look forward to reading more of your insights.
Ronald - Thank you for the post about my blog. It is nice to know it is getting read! I've answered the questions you had below. If you need anything else, just let me know. If you need to send me a private email I can be reached at eveheaton@hotmail.com.

What do you think was the most effective about the ISNs in the classroom?

- Having everything in one location. It was easy to refer students back to something they had already done or something we had discussed.
- This might not be true for every student but the ISNs help to "block" information so it provides a type of mental cataloging for students of specific information.
- The focus on student centered work and less on worksheets.

What would you like to be more effective?

- I would like my elementary students to become more independant and able to synthesize information better on their own and rely less on what I have to say.

How do you plan to make that aspect more effective next semester?

- I am going to start giving my students choices about how they handle their left hand assignments based on what I have already modeled in class. My thought is that if I make the assignment more independent, but within a structured frame work, students will feel less overwhelmed at having to interpret information without the teachers help.

What are two or three things you would recommend any teacher do before integrating the notebook approach with their class?

1. Plan to use the notebook EVERY DAY. Notebooking does not work if students don't interact with it daily. If you aren't saying it is important by your actions students won't think it is important.
2. Create a teacher notebook and try out assignments before you present them to the class. That helps you iron out kinks or spot problems before the students find them. Also, be prepared to model the assignments more then once. It may be slow going but you will get the students trained.
3. Purchase extra notebooks for the students who simply never bring one in. I would also add to have five notebooks pre-numbered (you can do it in front of the tv one night) so that you can easily transition new students into notebooking (I have had five new students this year and that was a god send to have them ready to give to the new students...I just took their notebook up and it became mine while they got my prenumbered one).
WOW great response, thanks for your insights. I love the last three (actually I loved all of them, but the last three are great). Whenever I work with teachers I emphasize 'honoring' the new practice they are employing for the specific reason you say in bullet number 1. What we say and what we do must be the same thing or students will quickly disregard what we say. MODELING is so important, I personally use the I do you watch, I do you help, you do I help, you do I watch, and then release model, and many teachers don't realize the importance of extended modeling for students. My favorite is number 3, a great great insight from someone in the trenches who understands the importance of the small things. Thanks so much.
Interestingly when we first did our reseach on ISNs and were looking for some math examples we found the wiki almost immediately (I'm a member of your wiki- rodaniel). It was a great resource, so now I know who to thank. Megan and Dianne have had great success this last semester with their notebooks. We are in the midst of writing an article and will be composing it on a wiki (Writing in Math that I put together while working with another teacher). I would love to get your insights as we get further along.

Again, thanks for being so proactive about ISNs, it has been a great help to us.
I'm glad you found it helpful. It started with a discussion on a teacher forum. Everyone was posting great examples of ISNs, so I put them all on a wiki - mostly for my own use. But as more and more people were using them, I started posting the link so others could benefit from it and add their own. Most of the pages on the left of the wiki were put together by another teacher who asked if she could be a co-organizer. I have never met her, but she has a lot of good ideas.

I do not teach math, so I am not sure how helpful I would be, but I hope you will post examples on the wiki as you have them. I think the easiest ones to do are the Social Studies and Science ones. That is pretty evident by the lack of examples out there. But, I think it is possible. I know Diana Zikes has math foldables which I think may be helpful to use for some math concepts. I use them in SS and we paste them in the notebooks.

BTW: I was looking at your wiki. It is an educational wiki so you can have an ad-free wiki. Click "Manage Space" then "Subscription" then under "Request a complimentary upgrade to Plus for K-12 education" click "Request yours now".
Thanks for the info, I requested this morning.


I realize I am quite late to this discussion, however, I am hoping someone might be able to help me get started with an ISN for a 6th grade Language Arts classroom.  I would love to discuss this with someone and since I am a visual learner...if someone already has an LA notebook, maybe you can send me some pics.  I would love to see one in action.  Any help is greatly appreciated!




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