Interactive notebooks are a popular instructional strategy in classrooms today, but do you know how to best use them? Here are fifteen reasons you should start interactive notebooks in your classroom today!
Interactive Notebooks Organize Learning
Quite possibly the best thing about interactive notebooks is that they organize learning. A regular spiral full of notes doesn’t really maintain a sense of organization, but a carefully numbered and maintained INB gives students an organizational system that makes it easy to refer back to their notes.
Check out this post for ideas on how to start strong with INBs.
They Are Hands-On
Between the cutting, gluing, note taking and more INBs offer students a chance to interact with the information in a physical way.
They Are Research-Based
According to the experts, interactive notebooks are great learning tools for a myriad of information included in this post. You don’t have to take my word for it though, check out this article.
They Are Scaffolded
Our classrooms are NOT full of students working exactly at the same level. In our constant search for differentiation to meet all students’ needs, INBs can be a huge help.
Each student is creating a product of their own learning and can do so at their own pace. By included slotted or even completed notes, depending on students’ needs, INBs can be affectively scaffolded to meet just about every learner where they are.
They Appeal to Different Learning Styles
Whether you are more apt to learn kinesthetically, aurally, or through making connections to drawing INBs have something for everyone and hit multiple learning styles and intelligences all at once.
For example, sketch notes are a great way to get artistic students excited about taking notes. Check out more here.
Interactive Notebooks Serve as a Home-School Bridge
How often do you have parents asking what students are doing in the classroom? Sending home INBs to be shared with families is a great way to build the connection between home and school while encouraging students to show their families what is happening in the classroom.
Pro tip: if an INB activity includes coloring, have students complete this part at home and quiz their family or friends on the information included.
They Encourage Creativity
Interactive notebooks encourage creativity in students and teachers alike. Whether you are being creative about how information is input or allowing students to show their artistic and imaginative side during the output activity, INBs push everyone to think outside the box.
They Are Fun
Most students report they MUCH prefer INBs to traditional note taking. Is there really any wonder why?
They Encourage Critical Thinking
While we most often think of fold-up and sketch notes, which are both part of the input side, when thinking of interactive notebooks, it is important to remember that the output is where students are doing their biggest thinking.
Output is where students reach the higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy to synthesize and analyze their learning.
For my favorite output activities, check out this post.
They Give Students Power Over Their Learning
INBs are the perfect way for students to take ownership and pride in their learning. This is because even if every singe students’ input is exactly the same, the output will still be vastly different.
This individualized learning and processing of information makes INBs incredibly personal.
Interactive Notebooks Are Ongoing
The work in an INB is never really over. There is always something more to be done and analyzed.
This means a notebook started in fifth grade could be picked back up again in eighth grade or beyond.
One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when a seventh grade Texas History teacher sought me out to show me the INB a former student of mine had brought to their class. Not only did the student save their notebook, but the seventh grade teacher was able to use it to build on.
Students LOVE Them
I mentioned they are fun before, but really, students love them. Over my years in the classroom, INBs habitually wound up on the top of the list my students reported enjoying at the end of the school year.
They Incorporate Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers are a well-researched and time tested strategy in classrooms, and INBs build up on this strategy.
They Show Students How to Study
One of my favorite things about interactive notebooks is how they show students how to study. It might not seem obvious to all, but based on what we place importance on within the notebook, students are able to select the big ideas of a unit and focus their studies.
While few students have the opportunity to take a study-skills class, INBs serve as a mini course in just that.
Interactive Notebooks Serve as an Artifact
Finally, INBs can last for years and show the learning and progression a student makes throughout their time studying a subject.
In particular, student output from the beginning to end of school year can change drastically with students learning to think more critically and include more detail in their analysis.
This record of progression and learning serves as an artifact for both students and teachers.
Interactive Notebooks Rule!
I don’t think it is any secret that I find INBs to be a vital tool in the classroom. Yes, they take up some time and use a lot of paper, but the outcome is so much more than that.
Check Out These INB Kits
Ready to get started on INBs in your history classroom? I have both U.S. History and Texas History INB Template Kits waiting for you.
Within these kits, each unit has a set of activities. Each activity comes in three versions to provide easy differentiation and is followed up by sample journaling questions to get your output ideas flowing!