I’ve been hearing from quite a few teachers over the last several months who are eager to try Interactive Student Notebooks (ISNs), but are feeling overwhelmed with all the coloring and cutting and gluing that many of the fun foldable organizers seem to have.
“Must there always be so much cutting and gluing?!?” Angela, from Colorado, wrote to me recently.
My answer: HECK NO!!
ISNs are exactly what you make ’em!! If you (and your students, of course!) love the cutting and gluing, go for it!! Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest are filled with loads of great foldable organizers that will work perfectly for you.
But, if that’s not your bag, than skip them! But don’t shy away from ISNs because there is still PLENTY you can do with them that involves very little coloring and cutting and gluing.
Right now, we are working on analyzing the effect setting plays on plot. We read a short story (“The Last Dog” by Katherine Paterson) from our Holt Literature book and then completed a Venn diagram that compared and contrasted how an event from the story would be different if the setting were our town in present day. As you can see above, the Venn diagram is simply that… a diagram! Students just glued it into their ISNs and completed it… nothing fancy about that!! You can also see some of our notes and guiding questions on the right. Again, nothing fancy… just a piece of paper and a few dots of glue!
Then, I had students use the info from these pages to complete a “Setting Switch” activity, where they worked in groups to rewrite a scene from the story imagining that the original setting is now switched to our town in the present day.
It was a great learning experience… the students were able to demonstrate that they understood our learning target… and it was relatively hassle (and glue and scissors!)-free!!
So don’t get so caught up in thinking that your ISNs must always have such beautiful, fancy foldable organizers!
What do you include in your ISNs? I’d love to hear from you!