It’s no secret that I absolutely love using interactive math notebooks in my classroom! Over the past 6 years, the notebooks have evolved and I finally feel like I “got it right”. The reasons that I LOVE using interactive notebooks in my math classroom (in no particular order):
#1 They get students excited to interact with math
If this was the only reason that I love interactive notebooks, that would be enough. So many of my middle school students walk into my class hating math and they associate math with endless worksheets and binders. My students love the “interactive” part of the notebook- the engaging, thought-provoking activities and problems that they fill their notebooks with.
#2 Students take ownership of their work
At the beginning of the year, I show them samples of previous year’s notebooks and my students marvel at how full and big the notebooks will be in June. We call our Interactive Math Notebooks IMNs. Our IMNs are our homemade textbooks and journals of our progress and growth in math. My students love adding pages to their notebooks and really make sure that they fill in all of their pages completely. They hate missing a class if it means they miss a page and almost always stay for extra help to get what they missed! 5 years ago, my school and the town I teach in was devastated by a hurricane. When we finally came back to school, weeks later, a few of my students stored their interactive notebooks in a safe, dry place, with family photo albums and documents, to make sure that it survived the hurricane.
Organization doesn’t come easily to me. I wish, especially in middle school, that my teachers had helped me set up better systems for organization. Our interactive notebooks help students build foundations of organization that they can use throughout their school careers and in life. Back in the day I used to use binders. Guess what I always found on the floor at the end of the period…our notes and worksheets and activities that I worked so hard to prepare. I NEVER have this problem with interactive notebooks. Every page has its place. We glue them in together. Important notes and practice stay in the notebook and not on the floor.
#4 Easy Differentiation for All Learners
Using interactive notebooks make differentiation easy! My students with different needs get variations of the same page. For example, if a majority of my class is taking some notes, some of my students with IEPs and 504s get a glue in page with guided notes and fill in the blanks. Other students get a glue in page with the notes completed and my ENL students get a page that has key word translations. The pages don’t look exactly the same, but all of the kids are literally “on the same page”.
#5 The Best Reference Tool
All year long, I train my students to use their interactive math notebooks as a reference. If we are working on practice that uses skills that we learned earlier in the year, I will put the reference page numbers up on the board. If students ask how to do something that we already learned, we will find it together in our notebooks. I provide my students with post-its to mark off frequently used pages and we put a card stock divider in our notebooks for each chapter. Teaching students to use reference tools instead of relying on an adult to tell them the answer is a valuable skill. It is also another way to differentiate in the classroom. Students who need visual aids, reference sheets or additional scaffolding can find it in their notebooks.
Do you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? Why do you love them?