INB Thoughts

For the past couple of days I have really been thinking hard about interactive notebooks and what I want to get out of them in my classroom. I’ll be teaching Algebra 1 & an integrated Algebra 2 course and I know that I want to use INBs in both of them. Go big or go home. The issue I’m facing currently is that interactive notebooks, in my opinion, have a lot of little details. I think these little details are important though to build a strong foundation for not only me, but for my students.


Materials I know I want my students to have:

- Composition Notebook (papers won’t fall out and they will fit in a gallon sized baggy – idea courtesy of @mgolding) – I’m thinking they will need 2 for the entire year – is this reasonable?

- Pencils/Erasers

-Tape (I don’t want to deal with the hassle of glue poop)

- Colored pencils

- At least 1 highlighter

*I will provide a class set of scissors


I want all of these things to be kept in a gallon sized baggy that I will provide to make for easy storing (whether it be in class or in their book bag). Students will always have all their materials as long as they all stay in the baggy. Hopefully by putting a couple pencils in the bag it will eliminate me having to buy them in bulk.

Since I want them to be able to store them in my room I want them to be able to find their baggy asap! I really want to avoid people huddling around looking for theirs 5 minutes after the bell has rung.

Ideas to make this possible:

- Decorate the composition book: duct tape, scrapbook paper, magazine clippings, numbers about me, etc. I think I might want to make this an assignment so it doesn’t take up class time and it still lets students have personal ownership of the journal.

- Also to keep classes separate I could have them put duct tape on the spine in a different color.

- Mark the baggy: I’m talking more than just black sharpie with the kid’s name on it. I think using patterned duct tape in a particular spot could help identify that student’s bag from others immediately.

Kind of like this but on a gallon bag. They can be different patterns and placed in different spots and on different angles. (Does this make sense, am I crazy?! Help me avoid traffic jams!)


Other cosmetic features that I’ve been thinking about are do I want

one of these or

one of these (but probably cut in half that way its like a 2-for-1)

The purpose of the pocket in either case would be to keep things that are in progress inside. I plan on doing warm-ups but these will generally be OGT test prep questions and since I don’t foresee students ever looking at them again I am thinking that each Monday students will grab a warm-up form and keep it all week and store it in the pocket, and on Friday I will collect them and make it either part of their homework or participation grade. I really want to stress to students that what is inside the notebook is testable material so I don’t want them thinking I’m going to throw some Geometry on their test just because it was a warm-up question.

I’m also thinking just for fun to keep the notebook together like this with a rubber band:

(for my personal INB I think I want these)

One thing I know I don’t want this to be are just worksheets taped inside a notebook. I want students to put their thoughts inside and reflect upon their learning. The left side page is usually where these things go- this is also the side that I’m most scared of. I want it to have meaning but I’m not quite sure I’m confident that I have the prompts that will make that happen. If you know of any websites that have good examples of “left side” pages please leave the links below!

9 comments

  1. Meredith (@maesheffield)

    I think the left side is scariest for everyone.

    Any thoughts on HOW you’re going to store them in your classroom? I like the idea of storing them on a shelf, but I’m thinking the baggies would make this really messy. Maybe giant rubbermaid totes?

    • mathtastrophe

      I have no idea. I tweeted with @mgolding a little bit and found out she has 9 bins in her classroom for her students – thing is she only has 3 blocks, I will have 6 which means ~150 students and I’m starting to worry I won’t have enough space for all the notebooks. I may have to rethink allowing student to store in class.

  2. Megan Hayes-Golding

    On how many notebooks you’ll need: 1 notebook per semester should be good. You’ll have 200 numbered pages and my classes generally used a left/right pair each day. I didn’t want to hassle with kids taking forever to go buy a book (and wanted to do a first day activity setting them up), so I bought 150+ notebooks before school started. (Don’t tell anyone but I sold them back at cost!)

    On storage: At the very beginning of the year, I had just one crate allocated to each class. 28 notebooks inside zipper bags fit in the crate. I found that having 28 kids lining up at a single crate was a traffic jam so I bought more crates. Other teachers have used the tray under their desk (I didn’t like the unkempt appearance) or a single crate per group/row of desks. 2nd semester, I ditched the zipper bags because I thought they looked messy. BIG mistake! Those bags made it so kids ALWAYS had pencil, colored pencils, etc with them at all times.

    On left pages: The science people are really good at this, check out the Google for details. Some ideas I’ve seen that I think we could work into math: 1) graphic organizers or mind maps, 2) Pick 4 (Choose 4 problems from a larger practice set worked on paper or whiteboards. Choose them for a reason, copy them neatly into the notebook and say why.), 3) Question Starters (http://kalamitykat.com/2012/07/23/my-made4math-3-blooms-question-starters/), 4) do exit tickets/warmups/quizzes on the left pages (this was actually my most common use, but I never felt it was reflective enough).

  3. Kristen

    I’m so glad that we’re all in the same boat right now! i think you all are convincing me of the need for the big baggie, and I bought 4 crates for storage (I’m only using them with two classes of about 18 students each). But I like the envelope in the back and the big rubber band around!

    • mathtastrophe

      Every week?! Not a chance, that would be way too much work! I plan on doing it once a chapter but I’m also not grading the entire contents just random pages, some theyll know ahead of time some they won’t. I may even do like a pop check and it would be like on pg 12 how did we define polynomial? Tweet me if you want to chat more, I love talking about INB and hashing out all the details.

    • Megan Hayes-Golding

      I had good results collecting notebooks once per unit for in-depth grading. Warning: these can be very time-consuming to grade!

      My date-stamp goes around the room with me every day. I use it to mark on-time homework (or other stuff). That way when it comes around to grading day, some stuff is already marked.

  4. Edumik8ter

    I haven’t actually implemented this yet, but something I’ve considered and I thought it might be helpful to you as well.
    If you store the ISN in bags, they could be clipped 4-5 together with 1 of multiple decorated binder clips (think paper/tape & ribbon) and stored in crates or hung on hooks (LOVE those 3M hooks!). At the start of class 1 student retrieve’s their designated hook, which is quickly and easily identifiable b/c of the paper/tape & ribbon, and then passes out the 4-5 books to fellow peers in their row/group. Now you have maybe 4 or 5 students retrieving notebooks instead of 20. At the end of class, that same or different student collects the books from their row/group, clips together, and returns them to their designated spot. Rotate students to retrieve and return similar to class jobs. Like I said, haven’t actually tried it to work out any glitches, Good Luck!

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