Whenever I post on Instagram about my undying love for interactive notebook, I get tons of questions about how I make time for using them in my classroom. Just to start, I have 42 minute periods with my students daily. Here are a few tips that have worked for me over the years!
#1 KEEP IT SIMPLE
I have spoken about this a few times on Instagram, but I truly believe in keeping my interactive notebook pages simple. I see so many beautiful foldables and pages floating around Pinterest, but if it doesn’t enhance student learning or understanding, I don’t do it. I refuse to use time that students could be interacting with math so that they can color, cut and glue unnecessarily. With my math pages, the depth of complexity is in the problems and activities that I choose. Many times our notes and practice problems are simple half page or one fold booklets that get stuck in our notebooks with 4 quick dots of glue. I am not saying that there isn’t a time and place where coloring and complex foldables enhance student learning, but if it is just for decoration or show, we don’t spend time on them.
When I first started with interactive notebooks, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful pages that I saw online. I realized though that many times, the simple pages are the most helpful for my students. My go to is a simple one fold mini-booklet with notes and practice. I have formatted all of my 6th grade curriculum notes like this and my class loves them!
#2 GET YOUR ADHESIVE RIGHT
This took some trial and error for me. I started with glue sticks, which dried up and didn’t stick. Then I moved to Scotch Tape Dispensers, which was awesome, but it got expensive to continually replace. I finally found the perfect solution- Elmer’s Liquid Glue (the best!) with Tap ‘N Glue Caps. You replace the regular glue bottle caps with the Tap ‘N Glue Caps and the special cap only allows a dot of glue out at a time. These have been a game changer in my classroom! Elmer’s Liquid Glue is inexpensive (especially if you get it during the back to school sales) and lasts a long time. The Tap ‘N Glue caps can be reused year after year. I am on year 5 with mine and I don’t think I am going to have to replace them anytime soon.
I train my students on using the glue in the beginning of the year and it makes a huge difference! We can glue pages in our notebooks in less than a minute. It’s also important to have your supplies out at all times for students. I keep a bin on each table of 4 desks. Even if they don’t keep it neat (I took this picture as a reminder of what our supply bins should NOT look like), it is a huge time-saver to have the supplies out and within arms reach.
#3 PREP EVERYTHING YOU CAN IN BULK
This is another thing that I get questions about all the time. I don’t like to waste time with cutting and folding in class if it isn’t essential to the lesson. When I can, I fold and cut my pages in bulk. Sometimes I use a paper cutter, but most of the time, I use these Fiskar’s Scissors to cut a bunch of sheets at a time. I always fold any pages that need folding in bulk (5-10) at a time. I don’t worry about pages being perfect. Students who like their pages perfect know that they can quickly fix them, as long as they keep up with class. A lot of student’s don’t mind if the fold isn’t PERFECT or a cut is a tiny bit off and just glue it in as is.
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