I started out having students use paper notebooks in a pretty traditional interactive note taking style. I was green and everyone else was doing it. As technology changed I ventured into the world of Hyperdocs, student blogs and other digital tools. I always seem to come back to the classic paper composition notebook. I also started breaking things down into unit chunks. This makes it easier for a student to recover if they misplace their notebook.
Each unit has the following components:
- Here is a slide deck I use to help with student organization.
- Table of contents - this contains the page number, date of entry and the name of the assignment. This makes it easier students and teacher to find what they need quickly.
- Title page - this has the name of the unit, the learning targets and usually five or more colorful/creative images that connect to the topic. When we kick off a new learning target I’ll share a few video clips and resources that they can use to preview the material and also get image/symbol ideas.
- As we move through the unit all of the notes, graphic organizers, lab work, etc. will be placed in the notebook. Each of these assignments also comes with a creative reflection portion where students choose how to connect with the material. Sometimes I pick what they do and often they get to choose. You can see a list of options I give them here.
- The notebook becomes a great form of assessment. Sometimes I just grade for completion and other times I use a rubric. You can see my simple rubric in the slide deck download below.
Here are some reasons I prefer for using paper interactive notebooks. I know there are also some compelling cases for going digital. Paper is just my current preference.
- They are more tactile and don’t always require a screen. Creative notebook work often has a calming effect in the classroom.
- There is a built in activity where students are asked to think about what they just learned and then make connections. Sometimes I want to skip over this part because we always seemed pressed for time, but it really helps the learning stick.
- Notebooks are easy to turn on and off. There is not a battery that can be drained.
- They are much faster to look through. I don’t have to wait for documents to load. They usually save me time.
- Using a paper notebook places responsibility on students to keep things organized.
- There are many benefits to taking notes by hand.
- Paper is one of the best forms of technology. It’s versatile. Each page is a blank canvas with unlimited possibilities.
Here are a few of my documents that you mind find useful.
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