Student interactive notebooks have been a total game-changer in my classroom. I have used science interactive notebooks since my first year of teaching, and I swear I learn more and more each school year. Over time, I’ve found ways to make using notebooks better for both me and my students. One essential thing I’ve learned is that how you set up your notebooks can make or break the experience. I want to share how I set up science interactive notebooks with my students so they are successful all year long.
Setting Up Student Interactive Notebooks
#1 Pick Your Notebook Style
My students always made fun of me because I was “anti-spiral notebooks.” I have good reasons, though! Personally, I don’t think spiral notebooks last as long. The stringy paper bits make a mess, and students love to pull out the metal spiral (making the journals an occupational hazard).
If I had to pass off any advice, it would be to stick with composition notebooks. They last longer and are less bulky than the binder option.
However, at the end of the day though, choose what works best for you and your students. Remember to also give students enough time to buy their notebooks. Many don’t go school supply shopping until after the first few days of school.
#2 Make a Day of It
A key to making this whole process successful is to take the time to set up student interactive notebooks. If you try to cram the process into ten minutes or put it together as you dive into content, it won’t work as well. Take my word for it.
Instead, block out a whole class period to set things up correctly.
#3 Create Student Interactive Notebook Covers
I HIGHLY recommend buying shipping labels (affiliate link) to make covers for the science interactive notebooks. You can type and print students’ information onto the sticker or have them stick it onto their notebooks and use a Sharpie to label it.
Personally, I like to put a sticker on the front and the back. This makes it easier to grade and organize the notebooks.
#4 Add a Table of Contents
Another idea for interactive notebooks is to add a table of contents. This should go at the front, and I recommend leaving a few empty pages. You can create a table of contents template for students to glue in or model how to create one.
Either way, show students how to use a table of content. This helps keep the students organized and able to find their notes and activities later.
#5 Create Divers for the Notebook
Next, decide how students will divide their student interactive notebooks. You can divide it by unit (this is how I like to do it) or by activity, like vocabulary, notes, warm ups, and more. Then, create table or divider pages students can glue in.
You also want to make sure the entire class is dividing their notebook the same this. This makes it easy to model how students should set up their notebooks, plus will make it easy for you to find items you want to grade.
#6 Add an Assessment Tracker
Lastly, science interactive notebooks don’t have to be just for content material. You can also use them for other class-related items. I like to add assessment trackers to the back of my students’ notebooks. Then, throughout the year, students track their grades and have a quick, visual way to monitor their progress.
If you are looking for tools or ideas to help you set up your student interactive notebook, grab the Interactive Notebook Set Up Kit. It includes templates for items like a table of contents, key vocabulary, learning goals, an assessment tracker, and more that students can glue into their notebooks.
If you are looking for a guide to help you set up your interactive science notebooks, check out the freebie below filled with tips and tricks to make them a powerful resource.