Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's see if I can make this coherent...

We're now four weeks into school and I've been using interactive notebooks with my students for the last three weeks.  They are new to me and to my students, so I expected some growing pains. 

Today, two of my students told me that they prefer the way they took notes last year (copious notes on looseleaf).  I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't a little crushed.  I left out my disappointment when I talked to them about it.  I asked why they preferred the notes last year and it seemed to boil down to the fact that they like direct instruction with lots of examples.  I thanked them for their input, said I would take it into consideration, and told them I appreciated them talking to me about it because I know it takes a lot of courage for middle school students to have that kind of conversation with a teacher. 

I have to say that I don't disagree with the girls that a few more examples over the most recent topic (solving systems of equations) would have been helpful for some students.  The thing I'm now trying to figure out is how I make that work with the interactive notebook.  I don't want to have students take lengthy notes only to later condense them in the notebook because that would take so much time.  I also don't want to do a few examples on a foldable that is saved and a few others on a sheet of looseleaf that won't ever be seen again. 

My other issue with this comment is that my school is trying to ever so gently move away from direct instruction.  While it has its place, we know that there are lots of other ways that students learn and express their knowledge that are much more dynamic and engaging. 

If you use Interactive Notebooks, how do you find the right balance between overly condensed notes and lengthy notes?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B


  1. Thanks for sharing! I am struggling with the same issues my first year with interactive notebooks. It helps to know that someone else is having the same issue. I think a lot of the issues come from change and some students don't like change. I know that is not all there is to it, so I am looking for ways to compromise traditional notes with the condensed notes as well.

  2. Another perspective to consider is what are the learning styles of these two students? Did they score higher on reading/writing than other areas? Perhaps they simply learn better by writing things down and re-reading their notes. Is it possible for you to allow students with a preference for reading/writing to hand write notes in their interactive notebooks in place of the foldables?

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  4. I use INBs with high school students but we also spend a good deal of time in class doing Common Instructional Framework strategies. They are part of my school's vision and we really focus on spending much less time doing direct instruction. The kids have a tough time with this because they are accustomed to the traditional methods of instruction. It will take time, plenty of it, for them to adjust but if you also adjust your assignments and assessments to be more like your INB, they will adjust. Stick with it! Also, I allow them to use the INBs for quizzes which forces them to actually interact with the notebook outside of the note taking itself.

    1. I had to look up CIF and I was glad I did. Yes, yes, yes. It's definitely a hard transition, especially for kids who are successful under the sit and get system, but it's slowly working.