By Teachers, For Teachers
“The best way to teach is to remember what it is like to learn.”
You’ve gone through school. But, has anyone ever really taught you HOW to learn? Interactive Student Notebooks, or ISNs, do just that. ISNs are student-created and teacher-directed classroom management compilations of learning that teach students how to organize their notes, questions, thoughts, in-class activities, and much more all in one place. This classroom management tool is not just for middle school and under students: It can be used in all grade levels!
Although “ISN” sounds super-futuristic, it is actually just coming back to the good-ole pen and paper in our ever-so-technology-driven world.
In fact, a study from Psychological Science (and other sources) concluded that although tech-savvy approaches are a great way to bring resources into the classroom, students learn best when they have to write things down. Not writing down the information decreases learning drastically.
There are many other benefits to using ISNs for both you (as the teacher) and your students.
Common questions that all students wonder in class include, “What do you even write down from this long reading?” “Should I just copy down the definition word-by-word?” “How do I even begin figuring out what I need to know?”
With ISNs, teachers can show students how to take effective notes when doing readings and how to get the most out of in-class activities. These learning skills will transfer into how they learn in other classes, and hopefully in their life in the future.
Hands-on fold tables that are required to be cut out, colored, defined, and summarized to show relationships to critical thinking elements from the book and in-class, like answers from discussion questions and student created examples, are used to grow understanding. These techniques have been proven benefits in memory retention.
Simply writing notes does not mean you have learned the information. You must actively do something with information before you can really understand it.
It is the infamous struggle of schoolteachers: How to help unorganized students. Say goodbye to hearing things like “I lost it,” “Can I go to my locker to look for it,” and the dreaded, “Did we do anything while I was gone?” Here’s how:
This mutual place to put all the information in exactly the way you want it to look is a surefire way to keep everyone organized, including you.
Ever had that student that simply won’t do something that day you’re doing because they don’t think it impacts their grade? Well, set up your grading system so that every day and activity (that you obviously are doing to help them learn) will be a part of his or her grade. Talk about motivation! Implementing notebook checks and a rubric for grading will motivate students to work hard everyday.
Additionally, if your administration asks for documentation of student learning, you have dozens of notebooks sitting around on that fancy corner you cleared for them showing just that -- and also in a way that you’re proud to show!
To sum everything up, as you can see, implementing these is a surefire way to impress your colleagues and administration (who doesn’t want that?) and truly teach your students the process of learning.
Here are some tips on getting your own ISN started in your classroom.
Check out our board on Pinterest for examples. Feel free to pin on to our page if you have any successful ventures!
Lastly, include a learning contract to emphasize the importance of ISNs:
I, __________________________, will use my interactive student notebook to enhance my learning in the following ways above and understand how they will be graded.