Whether you have been teaching science for a year or ten years, chances are you have heard of science interactive notebooks. But, if you have never used interactive notebooks in your middle school classroom, here are my top 4 reasons you should use them in your classroom this year.
Interactive Notebooks Keep Students Organized
My students use their interactive notebooks for EVERY assignment in my classroom. If it needs to be turned in, it goes in their notebook. Guided notes, worksheet activities, lab reports, project rubrics, answer sheets, it ALL goes in their notebooks. This means there are no more loose papers that get left in desks or on the floor. No more assignments lost in the bottom of their backpack.
By having students put every assignment in their science notebook, students stay more organized. They have everything they need when it’s time to turn an assignment in. Using interactive notebooks also means not having messy turn in bins for daily assignments. With paper assignments, as students turn them in, the turn in bins become a disaster. By the end of the day, you have messy piles of papers to sift through before you can start grading them. Having interactive notebooks prevents this from happening.
Science Notebooks Can Be Used as a Reference
Throughout the year, students will put every assignment for each unit in their interactive notebook. This allows students to have a quick and easy place to use as a reference guide. They can use their notebooks to review for tests or quizzes, revisit concepts they were confused by, or prepare for end of year exams. Many of my students have kept their science notebooks at the end of the year and used them as a reference for upper-level courses. Since science concepts build on teach other, they were able to use their interactive notebooks to help them review basic concepts in biology, chemistry and physics. I’ve had several students tell me how helpful their science notebooks were for years to come.
Interactive Notebooks Support Differentiation
While it may seem like putting every assignment into a notebook would limit the type of activity you can complete, I have found that using interactive notebooks actually helps me to differentiate the type of activities I do in my classroom. I have used science notebooks for so many different activities. Lab reports, graphic organizers, task cards, rubrics and even escape room activities can all go into interactive notebooks. If an activity has a written or visual component to it, it can be added to an interactive notebook.
Science Notebooks are Perfect for Assessment Portfolios
Interactive notebooks make data collection so much easier. When students put all their work in one place, you can easily use it for data collection throughout the year. When I hold a parent teacher conference, I always bring the student’s notebook to show parents exactly what their student is working on. This gives parents concrete examples of what their student is learning and doing in your classroom.
Another way I use interactive notebooks for data collection is to include assessment trackers and reflection pages in students’ notebooks. I have students reflect on their understanding of each unit. This allows me to gather informal data on how the student feel about the current concepts. I use this information to helps me to know what concepts students need more review time on.
You can also use student work samples from your students’ science notebooks as part of your end of the year teacher evaluation. Administration can easily see samples of student work and a progression of skills through the school year. I always keep a few of my students’ interactive notebooks to show to administration at the end of the year.
Bonus -Interactive notebooks make great student samples
At the end of the school year, I ask one of my students if I can keep their interactive notebook. By having a copy of a student’s science notebook, I can use it as a guide for future lesson planning. I use the student sample to help me remember what worked well and what didn’t. It also use it as a student model for the next school year. If my students complete an activity that benefits from having a sample, I can show them a previous student’s assignment instead of creating it myself.
If you want to use interactive notebooks in your classroom, now is a great time to start. You don’t have to wait until a new school year or a new semester to start using interactive notebooks in your classroom. Grab this Interactive Notebook Starter Kit to help you set up interactive notebooks in your classroom.