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ISN Series: Creating the Interactive Student Notebook

Today will be my first in a series on creating, setting up, using, and grading an Interactive Student Notebook in a middle school Language Arts classroom! I'm hoping to post once a week about this topic, as I go through the process again with my own students!

Step 1:

The first thing you need to do is gather your supplies.

I suggest a Mead Five Star Five Subject Notebook in whichever color you prefer. The sturdy cover and ring makes sure it stays together all year.

You will need glue, lots and lots and lots of glue. I highly recommend asking your students to have two bottles of glue for their own use throughout the year.

Student Supply List:
5 Subject Notebook with Sturdy Cover
2 Bottles of Glue
Art Supplies (scissors, crayons, markers, colored pencils)

Step 2:

This is your chance to create your own set of guidelines and information for students and parents about the ISN. What will yours look like? Will it be left side- student, right side- teacher, flip flopped, completely different? Use the internet to find models (Kelly Gallagher says to always have a model for writing!) and craft your own to suit your needs! Hint: Go to Pinterest. Type Interactive Student Notebooks. Prepare to lose 5 hours of your life. :)

No matter what, you should have an explanation of what it is, how it will be used, how it should function, and the incredible IMPORTANCE of the notebook. It should be stressed very clearly that, no matter what, they should NEVER lose their ISN!

This is also the time to decide how you are grading the notebook. I am grading the notebook on a 10:2 basis. For every ten assignments, they choose one, and I choose one. I don't count it for a grade, but it goes in the grade book towards their effort grade. More info on that from my grading post yesterday!

Also, I highly recommend that you actually spend a class period decorating notebooks, no matter how frivolous it may seem. Provide materials for students who don't have them at home. This gives them ownership of the notebooks, and helps them develop a "relationship" with them, lol. 

Next Post: Prepping On Your End: How to Plan for the ISN


  1. Thanks for the tips-I'm just setting up my guidelines for the notebooks, and am excited to keep reading your advice.

  2. I love ISNs and can't imagine teaching without them. I'm always looking for ways to improve so I can't wait to read your series.

    1. I saw you teach Social Studies, do you do stuff with History Alive!? Thanks for visiting! :)

  3. Do you use a rubric to grade your INB? If so, what does that look like?

  4. I have a question about...glue! Does it matter what kind? My students always tend to bring in glue sticks, and the sticks are less messy; however, I've heard Elmer's in a bottle is better. Do you think it really matters?

    Lit with Lyns

    1. I there! I actually do prefer Elmer's glue in a bottle, only because sometimes the glue stick tends to "unstick" after awhile, and then pages fall out. I always tell them 4 dots in the corner, and one in the middle, that way they aren't drawing smiley faces with the glue and wasting it!

  5. Thank you so much for blogging about your ISN!!! This is the most helpful resource I have found to start these in my classroom.


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Thanks for stopping by! JW

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