Skip to main content

ISN Series: Prepping On Your End- How to Plan for the ISN

Before we start, go enter the giveaway for the water bottle, it ends tomorrow!

Today's Tuesday is all about prepping for your ISN!

First- Here are my decorated notebooks, and I can't wait to take pictures of some of the awesome notebooks I've already seen from my students! :)

8th LA1 ET

7th LA1 ET

8th LA1

On to the meat and potatoes of the ISN:

It is CRITICAL that you are planned for the ISN. You absolutely cannot fly by the seat of your pants with this one, as a lot of prep work goes into this. (Not that any teacher would ever make up lessons on the fly, lol)

Top Three Reasons You Must Prep:
  1.  The Table of Contents must be ready and updated for your students.
  2. You definitely want any copies made in advance. 
  3. If you are using a document camera, you want to make sure you know in advance what you are putting in the ISN, or you want it done ahead of time.

The Table of Contents is the be all end all for the ISN for me. Personally, I like to have it done a unit at a time, that way I don't forget any activities. You may want to fill it out alongside your students, it's really whatever works for you. 

My students last year preferred to have it done in advance so they could see what was coming up next. This also stopped the constant question, "What are we doing today/this week/this year/this lifetime/etc..."

I type mine out, and display it on the projector. The number #1 reason I do this is that I can easily post it to my class website, everyone can read it easily, and my document camera stinks (actually, it's just a little P2V camera that I purchased myself, and it refocuses constantly. It gets the job done in a pinch.) I can also zoom in, or have it displayed as students come in the room.

This is always part of my "bellringer" on Mondays, or at the beginning of a unit. Students understand they need to come in, update their TOC, and then we will get to work. This is a good time for students to ask questions, and me to take attendance and check in work.

When you are first starting with ISN's, take 10 minutes to number EVERY SINGLE PAGE in advance in the notebook. Some students will turn this into a game, and that's fine. This is to make sure everyone is on the same page at the same time, and even though a student may promise to number pages on their own, there is the small chance it may slip their mind. Better to just get it done in advance. 

The first four pages of the ISN are dedicated to the TOC. I try to use one page for each quarter, and then if necessary, staple or glue a page to the bottom if we need to add on. That would look like this: 

New this year, I am adding a column to enter the CCSS we are covering. This will help students get familiar with the standards, and reinforce that we are learning skills as opposed to stories. Also, I highly recommend having students create a "Unit Page" to go at the beginning of each unit, as a constant reminder of the skill being covered. Here is an example from last year. This year the units will have names such as "Author's Purpose" or "Inferencing", etc...

Having the TOC online is especially helpful if students are absent, or just want to get ahead or double check at home.
You may be saying, what actually goes in the notebook?
After taking a look at the curriculum, and the activities provided with your text if available, you have to start the "weeding out" process. I don't know about other textbooks, but our Pearson text came with so many supplementary materials it was overwhelming! I went through each little booklet, and decided on a few that would fit the ability level of my students. For my ET classes, I looked at what was recommended for enrichment, as our Pearson book has leveled activities (SO NICE!) recommended. This takes awhile, but will be well worth it in the end. Do your students need a lot of guided reading? Extended writing activities? Background knowledge and vocabulary?

For Unit One I decided on using the following activities for the reading selections:
 provided quick write bellringers
anticipation guides
making connections activities
multidraft reading
literary analysis and context clues
enrichment history research activity

(That's a lot of copying and prepping I'll need to get done, thank GOODNESS I know well in advance) ;)

These are just the things from the book I will use. In addition to the activities in the book, I will use tried and true strategies from my ELA arsenal, which I've compiled from various 6-Traits, Kelly Gallagher, Gifted, and CRISS workshops. (If you want to know more about CRISS, check out Heather over at Reading is Swagg. In addition to being my amazing ELA co-department chair and very good friend, she is the CRISS Queen in our District. :)

Some of these strategies include:

Sticky Note Discussions
After they put sticky notes in the text (asking questions, making predictions, connections, etc...) they stack them in their notebooks, so no more wasted sticky notes!

Close Reading

Shared Inquiry
This is a socratic seminar. So the students lead the discussion in class and use this as a guide.

Two-Column Notes

Foldables and Graphic Organizers

Mind Maps
These are awesome for kids, but kind of hard to explain because there are no rules. The rules are that you should fill the page, and all of them will more than likely look different and that is OK!

Also, I recommend color coding, but that might just be me. :) 
Also, even though I fill out the table of contents and plan in advance, it's important to model with the students by showing them how to do the activities. 

I hope you are finding this series helpful, and next week I'll be talking about more on how the actual process is with the students, how they use these notebooks to study, and questions students may have about the ISN. :)

Please let me know what else you would like to know about!!


  1. I am starting my ISNs on Thursday so this was great to read before then. In addition to the TOC, my students will have a Learning Targets Journal in the beginning which will list their "I Can" statements. Thanks!

    1. That is an AWESOME idea! Do the kids write their own based on each CCSS?

  2. I'd like to know if you incorporate technology into your ISNs and if so, how you do that. Thanks in advance!

    1. Awesome, I will add that to next weeks post!

  3. I tweeted this even before I got to the plug. :) Sharing it with out other four buildings as well. This is so informative. :)

  4. You are awesome, Jen! I will follow this blog to learn more about all your wonderful idea!!

    1. Hi Sandy! Thank you :) Hope to see you soon!

  5. This is really sparkling way to teach students.You being a teacher need to be very motivated and idealistic.People like us should click to explore more about more tips.

  6. You can see that you like to write. Sabrina

  7. GET RICH WITH BLANK ATM CARD during this PANDEMIC Whatsapp: +1(845)381-3566

    Hello everyone, I got my programmed and blanked ATM card to withdraw the maximum of €5,000 daily for a maximum of 90 days via ( BLANKATMCARDS.ONLINE@YAHOO.COM ). I am so happy about this because i got mine yesterday and I have used it to get 10,000 USD. CJ Hackers is giving out the card just to help the poor during this PANDEMIC and needy though it is illegal but it is something nice. Get yours from CJ Hackers today!

    Text & Whatsapp: +1(845)381-3566


  9. I am amazed by Ohikhobo's remedy. I Have had herpes for over 6 years with frequent outbreaks. Sometimes I average 2-3 times per month. Before one breakout could end, the next would begin. Nothing has helped me. I came online in search for a possible way to see how I can fight this virus so I found Ohikhobo here online after seeing a lot of testimonies of how he cured herpes and other diseases with natural herbs so I decided to give it a try I only took his remedy for two weeks and I was completely cured. I recommend Ohikhobo's remedy to anyone suffering from herpes that wants to be completely cured too.

    Email: drohikhoboherbalcenter @ gmail com

    WhatsApp +1740-231-2427


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! JW

Popular posts from this blog

Before the School Year Begins...

I decided that before I can start posting about what I'm doing this year, I needed to share some of my favorite strategies from last year that went really well with the students. I was completely inspired by Kelly Gallagher after reading devouring all of his books at the beginning of the school year! I had the opportunity to go to a Kelly Gallagher workshop at Judson this spring, and it was absolutely amazing! He was so nice when I went up to him (I was terrified and starstruck), and even wrote "You're Welcome" on this piece of paper, because my students actually asked me to THANK HIM for changing the way we read novels in class.  Students + asked me + to say thank you to an author + about school stuff = UTOPIA! Here are some of my abbreviated notes from the day: His TOP Points: Kids should write 4X more than you can physically grade  Students suffer from word poverty. Must get students reading more in order to be exposed to vocabulary. We ne

RAK Classroom Kit + Enjoy the Magic of The Holidays at Oakbrook Center!

Last week The Middle School Mob hosted a FB Live Holiday Hop, and I shared how I do a RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) activity with my students during the holiday season . This was my first time doing a FB live and I had so much fun! You can check out the RAK Classroom Kit here If you live in the Chicagoland area and want to have a fun family outing this Christmas season, be sure to check out my post over at Modest House, Extraordinary Home ! Save Save Save Save

Another Pinterest crafting project!

Look what I got!!! :) I will be creating this in the next few days  hours, and hopefully it will turn out as nice as the other ones I've seen online! Inspiration: Down the Learning Road It's not exactly the same, but I wanted one that was wider rather than tall. I got the organizer at Home Depot for $16.97! I'm thinking I'll mod podge it instead of paint it, but we'll see! What projects are you working on today?