How an Interactive Notebook Made My Week

Last year my son had an “Interactive Notebook” to keep track of all of his 3rd grade Social Studies work.  He brought it home about four times throughout the course of the year to study for tests that he had coming up.  As a child, I don’t think that I ever had this kind of interactive notebook.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  The notebook was the black and white composition book, and inside he had cut and glued papers in the notebook to help him study.  There was a map that folded out, a pocket that held the types of government, and a worksheet pasted in which explained some basic economic terms.

The Value of Cutting, Pasting and Coloring

My son liked his “interactive notebook”.  He enjoyed pulling out the pieces to show me what he had learned.  He liked coloring the pages, cutting out the pieces and gluing them back in.  Sometimes, I look at these “interactive notebooks” and think to myself, how is this interactive.  Cutting, pasting and coloring are lovely classroom activities, but I wonder how much they added to my son’s knowledge of the social studies curriculum.  Furthermore, is he now able to take those skills learned and apply them to fourth grade curriculum.  Will his “interactive notebook” follow him as he progresses throughout his school career?

Interactive

This definition of interactive is phenomenal!  “Allowing a two-way flow of information between a computer and a computer-user, responding to a user’s input.”  When I read that, I wonder, how can the black and white composition “interactive notebook” be truly interactive.  It is not responding to the user.  It is only user-driven; doing only what the user does.

A Real Interactive Notebook

At the end of last school year, a teacher told me that he wanted to start his 6th grade Science year off with an interactive notebook.  My initial thoughts went to the black and white composition book.  But, no, he wanted more.  He wanted his students to interact with his template through Google using their Chromebooks.  Yes, my heart fluttered a little during the conversation I had with him describing the possibilities.  He could set it up through Google Slides, share it through Google Classroom (making a copy for each student) and they could create their own interactive notebook.  They could include links to videos, websites, documents.  They could video themselves doing labs and save it in their notebooks.  He could send things to the students that they could add in.  They could reflect and self-assess!  All while he could monitor their progress through his Google Drive.  I left the year on cloud nine, dreaming of this true interactive notebook.

New School Year

So, it’s the beginning of the year and he has a template.  He is ready to go and just needs some assistance making sure he has posted it to Google Classroom correctly.  I walk into his classroom while the kids are beginning their interactive notebooks and this is what I see throughout the classroom.

Collaboration!  Excitement!  Engagement!  Learning!  Student-Centered!

This is an interactive notebook which these students will have with them (saved automatically in their Drive) for the rest of their school career.

Stay tuned for how to create that interactive notebook…