Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interactive Notebook Supplies

Next month, I'll be presenting my use of interactive notebooks and Foldables to teachers in my district at our Technology conference.  (Admittedly, the "technology" is a stretch, but I'm presenting in four sessions, so I guess it was something they thought people would want to hear about anyway.)  I'll be presenting on implementing these notebooks and on making Foldables with MS Word.

@misscalcul8 asked, "Anyone have a list of supplies needed for interactive notebooks?" and I thought I'd respond.  It's a good time of year to reflect on what supplies I've used now that the year is wrapping up and it's time to write next year's supply list.  I'll break it into two categories based on what I provide versus what students provide; based on the availability of resources in your school and the socio-economic status of the families in your school, you may make other choices.  More than half of my students receive free or reduced meals, so I try to keep parents' out-of-pocket costs very low.  My students could get these supplies for $2 total at Walmart last summer. 

Students provided:
  • 1 composition book, cardboard (not plastic) cover strongly preferred. 
  • 2 rolls Scotch tape (label these with a me!)  We attached something to almost every page, so if you expect to write directly in the notebook for lots of pages, one roll might be sufficient. 
  • a few colored pencils or highlighters (They don't need an entire set; three colors will accomplish almost any color-coding you plan to do.  Encourage kids to bring left overs from previous grades if they have them at home.)

I provided:
  • Lots of glue sticks.  On the order of 100, I think.  Check Walmart a week or two after school is in session for mark downs.  You could have students provide these.  I chose to have glue sticks available so no one had an excuse to not attach a page, but I also NEVER gave out tape.  I wasn't willing to buy hundreds of rolls of tape, and the kids largely understood when I explained I was not going to buy hundreds of rolls of tape.  Most of my kids mooched off their neighbors if they really wanted tape for a particular page.  Some teachers use liquid glue and have success.  I wasn't willing to wait for it to dry or to police the potential misuse of liquid glue, but it's incredibly cheap, so it's worth considering. 
  • Ziploc bags (one gallon size).  Every student had a labeled bag in which to keep their composition book if desired, plus any tape or colored pencils they'd brought in. I learned that 8th grade kids aren't adept at regular Ziploc bags; the slider kind would be a smart purchase. 
  • Storage space.  I had sturdy bins on a shelf where kids could leave their notebooks if they didn't need them for homework on a given night.  We're 160 days into the year and not one of my 80 math students has lost a notebook permanently.  A few have gone on short vacations, but they've returned!   
  • A class set of scissors (and trash bowls to minimize trips to the trash can)
  • A set of highlighters and/or colored pencils per table/group. (My kids just weren't all going to have these on their own due to finances, so I had some available to borrow.)
  • One stapler per table/group.  If you're going to buy these, do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to get the full-strip staplers.  I had no idea how much I would loathe the half-strip ones when I have to refill a few of the staplers every time we staple anything!  
  • Colored paper to help Foldables stand out. 
  • Gigantic rubber file bands.  They're about 7" long.  Punch a hole in the back cover of the book near a corner.  Loop the rubber band through.  Kids can use it to hold the book shut.  These can also be used to rescue a book that detaches from its cover.  Two students have had this happen this year and I was able to secure the cover by doubling one of these rubber bands around the middle of the book when unfolded. 
  • 6x9 manila envelopes with clasps.  Glue on the inside of the back cover for works-in-progress that don't get glued down immediately.  
Before you start to implement interactive notebooks, consider the physical space in your classroom.  How will your students manage the supplies that they need?  What procedures and physical layout choices can you implement to maximize the time that students spend learning (as opposed to gathering supplies)?

What is the most important school supply for your students?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B


  1. Where did you find the giant rubber bands and most importantly do they come in colors?

    1. I bought mine at Walmart (blue, pink, purple), but my Walmart stopped carrying them. Staples sells them in bright colors. I saw packs of 24 in my store or you can get these online:

    2. Oh, but Walmart does still carry the ones I bought at other store locations:

  2. Storage bin question...Do you have individual files for each student, or do they just put their gallon bag in the bin? Also, what are your procedures for getting/putting up supplies? I have about 30 in each class, so this is what I'm most nervous about!

    1. Hi Kaitlin. Thanks for your question. I had students just put their gallon bag (labeled with their name) directly into their assigned bin. It kept it to eight or less kids per bin, so it didn't take them long to find their notebooks. Procedurally, they were to collect their notebooks during warm-up time and put them away during clean-up time. I had classes of 27 and 28 last year, so I'm sure you can make it work with 30. If your room is cramped for space, consider having one student grab each tub to pass out the notebooks and collect them at the end so less people are moving about the room. You can even match your bins to your seating arrangement (one per table or row) to make that process even quicker.