Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Interactive Notebook Left Side Assignments

While I still have a month left in this school year, I'm working on getting ready for next year.  I'll be doing full Common Core in all of my classes and starting an interactive notebook.  One thing that has had me a little puzzled is what the students would do for the left side.

If you're not familiar with interactive notebooks, they're a way to get students to record input information (typically notes from the teacher, often in the form of foldables) on the right side and process that information into a meaningful output (problem sets, etc) on the left.  That left side sounded so BORING to me so I searched around for ideas.  Cobbled together from assignments I've seen posted around the internet and what I did as a kid, I put together a list of 20 possible Left Side Assignments.  I won't give my students choice about which assignment to do every day, but I hope to give them more and more freedom as the year progresses.

We'll glue this page into the notebooks.  My plan is to maintain a Table of Contents both in my notebook and on chart paper.  I'll note on the chart paper which options they may choose from for the left side.

Do you have any other awesome left side ideas that I should know about?  

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

P.S.- It may be interesting to note that my first experience with interactive notebooks was in my AP US History class.  I disliked the class and honestly got very, very little out of the notebooking.  I realized several years later that the main reason I didn't get anything out of it (besides my general disinterest in history) was that I wasn't given a firm foundation in how to make good choices about what was worthy of inclusion in my notebook and what was really just a detail that I wasn't responsible for retaining long-term.  I'm committed to making the notebooking a purposeful endeavor for my class, so I'll be showing them how to make those good choices and offering feedback for how to do better.  My history teacher?  He just handed out 110-120% as a grade if you used a lot of color.  I know I used 4 or more packs of Crayola markers that year.  The causes of the War of 1812?  Not so much... 


  1. WOO HOO!!! Your awesome post just knocked one thing off of my summer to do list. That darn LEFT SIDE killed me this year. I have the same idea...I want to go in with a better direction for the students for the left side. Thank you for your post.

    A few ideas: TOC..take the TOC that you put in your ISN and print it on 11x17 paper & laminate. I posted these on the wall and used dry erase to fill them in. Worked great!

    VOCABULARY!! I didn't do it well this year and plan to do MUCH better next year (it's on the to do list). I am going to use small Frayer models, folded in half..I think I can fit 5-6 on a page this way. We are going to create a Glossary in the back of the ISN. I am going to figure out the words we will put back there and count pages backward to fit.

    Estimation180.com Warm-up problems. I *think* I am going to put these after the TOC. There is an awesome handout that I will modify to fit on the ISN pages.

    Note: I use composition books. In 8th CCSS, we used 95 of the 200 pages and in Algebra we used 140, so I have extra pages to play with. At least I hope so, next year I am teaching Geometry, so I get to start my ISN over! :)

    Thank you again for sharing left side ideas. My goal is to NEVER have the students tape their homework there. :)

    1. Thanks for your comment! The laminated TOC is a great idea (and one that I can work on before summer break).

      I'm taking the same approach as you for vocabulary. I posted my vocab list here: http://iisanumber.blogspot.com/2013/04/8th-grade-math-common-core-vocabulary.html

      I love the idea of estimation 180 and I might use it with my intervention group. My regular classes already have a well established warm-up routine that we've implemented school-wide. They have a weekly sheet of spiral review; it won't be a part of the notebook.

      Thanks for letting me know how many pages you used. I'm getting ready to do my supply list for next year and I hesitated between asking for one or two notebooks, but it looks like one will suffice.

      Geometry was my favorite course to teach. I think it's the easiest course to relate to the real world. As I recall, my vocabulary list was over 300 words in that course, so be prepared for lots of Frayer Models!

  2. I have been searching for the same thing! Thank you for putting so many great ideas for left side thinking together. Thank you also for sharing your ideas so freely. I wish I had learned math from a teacher like you!

  3. Glad you find the list helpful! If you have anything to add, please let me know and I'll update the file. :)

  4. Hi!
    I cannot see the list :(
    Could u send it 2 me?

  5. Still stalking your left side list and the tmc link didn't work and this picture doesn't show up. :(

  6. The picture also does not show up for me :(
    Any chance you could send it to me?

  7. I can't see the list either. Would you be able to send it to me? cdoody@mac.com

  8. I can't see it either? I would love the list, please!

  9. Will you please share the list with me?

  10. I would love the list also if you get a chance! cmorris@g.risd.org