I have decided to ask my students to keep a binder and a notebook. That might sound repetitive, but I want to save the notebook for the cream-of-the-crop work and the essential ideas. I teach a full block all year (yes, 85ish minutes a day all year), so I knew one composition books wouldn't be sufficient if we did everything there and frankly, not everything is important. This is my biggest gripe when I look back at an interactive notebook I did in high school for AP U.S.- my teacher didn't help me make clear the distinctions between the important players and events from the minor ones. I want the notebook to help my kids differentiate between the big concepts and the ancillary skills.
I am still wrestling with the idea, but I'm pretty settled on the following: I'll give each student a gallon-size bag to keep their notebook and related supplies in. There will be a set of 4 bins per class in which they'll always store that bag (so 7 kids on average will share the bin). The notebooks can be taken home as required, but I'll encourage students to leave them in the room if they won't use them that night so as to minimize loss and we won't take them home for the first few weeks until we've established how useful they can be! Once they do take them home, they'll have a little card (below) to place in their bag whenever they take it home. That will help me if I need to check anything in the notebooks after school and it will serve as a reminder to them the next day of where their notebooks are. I always tell my kids to use their resources, so I can't justify making them keep their notebooks in the room forever. I also know I have students each year who take home the bare minimum. In that case, I'd rather the notebook live in my room than get smashed in a locker!
|To be placed in the bag each time the notebook leaves the classroom.|
|Labels for the bags. Each child will be asked to provide the materials listed (just one or two colored pencils or highlighters, not entire packs).|
|The gallon-sized bags are perfect for composition books and a few accessories.|
|Four bins per period. At the beginning of the year, they'll seem empty, but I wanted to make sure the bins would still work after our notebooks grew throughout the year.|
The bins are honestly one of the sturdiest plastic purchases I've made in a while. If you have a Big Lots, get yourself there ASAP if you need any baskets. The size I bought is the "mini" size and was $3.50 (minus my 20% discount = $2.80!). The toy box size with wheels was only $10 if I remember correctly. The plastic is thick and rigid, clearly of a quality that will stand up to a lot of use. They have the three colors shown and a dark blue, but I practically cleaned out my store of this size, so be quick if you want them. They're with the dorm stuff in the seasonal area. I bought a plastic shelving unit from Walmart that will hold all the bins nicely. The bins and shelf cost me $80. That's pricey for me, but I think both are of good quality and will last me many years; even if I decide to move away from notebooking they'll be useful. Another way to look at it is that I spent less than $1 per student to help them be successful this year.
What are your thoughts on keeping notebooks in the classroom or sending them home?