Throughout the years, I’ve been refining how I use interactive notebooks for science. Each year I learn something new about how to make them even more engaging and useful for my students. I think interactive notebooks can be really impactful for students, but they can also quickly get messy and disorganized. Luckily, I’ve learned from those mistakes in the past!
Here’s how I will be using interactive notebooks going forward –
How to Use Interactive Notebooks for Science
#1 Use a Table of Contents
Here’s the truth: If you don’t use a table of contents, kids will blindly paste things anywhere they can just to get it in before you do a notebook check. This means they end up an a notebook that is far from useful. To solve this problem in the future, my students will be required to have a table of content in their science interactive notebooks.
#2 Add Opportunities for Reflection
A lot of times, we get busy moving from one unit to the next because there is a lot to cover. However, students need to stop and reflect.
I plan on adding some reflection pages into my student’s interactive notebooks for science. In this space, I can assess their knowledge and understanding of the current and previous unit. This will not only help them see their own growth but also help me see what areas need to be reviewed.
#3 Divide Up the Units
To make science interactive notebooks less chaotic, units need to be clearly divided. Kind of like a table of content, the more intertwined everything is – the harder it is to find material later. With well-organized science interactive notebooks, students can easily search for what they need without flipping through each page. That’ll make things easier for all of us!
#4 Teach Students How to Glue…Seriously!
You may laugh at me for this one, but my students really go crazy with glue. I often have to say “a dot is a lot” because students will smear glue everywhere. It makes a mess, leaves their notebook gooey, and takes forever to dry. Some students use so much glue that I can’t even open their notebooks. In the future, we will have quarterly lessons on this to remind them how to glue. I am not even kidding!
#5 Track Student Progress
Having students include progress tracking in their science interactive notebooks is a great way to keep them accountable for their learning. The data trackers help students see their strengths, weaknesses, and overall progress. There needs to be lots of conversation around these charts (like letting them know it’s not to shame them), but I think it’s really useful for students to see.
#6 Use Templates
To make things easier on myself in the future, I plan on using more templates for science interactive notebooks. Not every lab or demonstration needs its own special lab or write up. I created a general lab template, a general claim, evidence, reasoning (CER) template, and a predict, observe, explain (POE) template that helps with this! These templates work for labs, demos, videos and more. In fact, I made a bundle with all of my no-prep, simple Science Templates.
I also created an Interactive Notebook Set Up Kit to help you prepare your science interactive notebooks at the start of the year. This set up kit includes a table of contents, learning goals, bellringer pages, vocabulary pages, and more.