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Interactive Student Notebooks 2.0

You know I love the ISN, but I wanted to make some changes for next year, in terms of how I organize it and utilize it within the classroom. This post will be chock full of pictures of what it looked like this year, and how it will be changing next year!

Here's an example of my running ISN table of contents from this year, it was great, but I really felt like it lacked some additional organization. I like having the CCSS on the right, and towards the end of the year, I started printing copies of it for students to save time writing in the Table of Contents in their own notebooks.

Here's the ISN TOC for this year! And yes, I've already begun the planning process, in fact, while watching the Blackhawks DOMINATE last night, I ended up planning out the entire year in order to be able to show all of you the new and improved ISN. I also wanted to do this now so that I could relax the rest of the summer. I have two more preps to do this for, but I'm most comfortable with my 8th grade ET class, so this was where I decided to start.  This will be a huge help when I go on maternity leave (if you missed the memo, I'm expecting December 3rd, yay!!), and there will be a clear plan in place for my long term sub.

What's new other than the color scheme?? TABS (more later)! This was something I did with my writer's notebooks for 7th grade this year, and it was such a time saver for my students!

All right, so I took one of my students ISN's from this year (it is AWESOME), and I'll be using it to compare and contrast the new version.

Student Cover: Nothing on this is changing. They must have their name on it (covered on this one), and she used clear packing tape to keep her pictures and decorations safe. I think the personalization is great for students, and gives them ownership.

So off to Target I went today to get my new notebook, and I was oh so excited! As I've said in the past, I highly recommend getting a Mead, 5-Star or equivalent notebook with a sturdy cover. Also, ask students to get COLLEGE RULED instead of wide ruled. The college ruled is just a bit bigger, and students don't need to trim pages to get them in the notebook. This year my students will need a full 5-subject notebook, but in the past a 3 subject has been more than enough. 

Time to decorate!

 Totally stole my students idea and put packing tape over it (which I used to do with my high school assignment notebooks, lol)
 And decided to cover the back with packing tape, too. Why not?
I also threaded a string through the side, not just to look cute, but to make a little bookmark to mark my page in the ISN!

On to the Table of Contents. Here is my students first page from last year. I used to have them divide by quarter, but I don't really see the appeal of this anymore this year.

New Table of Contents

 I decided to break up the notebook into many different sections:

1. Anchor Charts and Data
2. Quarter 1 Literature
3. Quarter 2 Literature
4. Quarter 3 Literature
5. Quarter 4 Literature
6. Reading Conferences/Reflection
7. Grammar Invitations
8. Writing
9. Vocab and Root Word Study
10. Free Writing (Need to add this section in my TOC still)

You'll notice I went through and determined the CCSS the best fit each activity, and while it initially seemed light to me in the lit. section, I had to remind myself that our 8th graders do both Reading and Writing in one 42 minute class period. Basically, each quarter is divided in half, where the first half focuses on literature and the second half on the writing. Also, not every single activity (like group and partner work) ends up in the ISN, so there is a bit of wiggle room. The biggest difference in the ISN for next year is that my students will be recording all of their data, and also keeping a record of their learning styles in their notebook. This will be all at the beginning for them, along with their anchor charts.
The reading conferences and reflection area is a great place for students to track what they are reading, or what they want to talk about when we meet to discuss their books. They can also keep track of their book shopping list and keep a log of what they have read this year and enjoyed.

 I color coded the Grammar Invitations section so I knew which quarter I intended to do each grammar invitation. This may or may not actually happen, so I will not keep this color coded when I print for students.
 This is where it gets boring, and why I put the Vocab and Root Word study at the end. I used to have students keep this work in a manila folder, but it often was lost, or in some cases, taken and copied, from their folders. Not anymore!
After this section is where I'll add the Notes and Free Writing Section.

Finally, I added the side tabs this year for extra organization:

Here's a smattering of the activities we used in the ISN this year that were super valuable:
Smashbook for Night. Using my own unit, along with the Smashbook project from Tales of Teaching in Heels, this unit was a bigger success than usual!

More of the smashbook!

Grammar Invitation Anchor Charts for Commas (more coming this summer as I finish creating them!)

Freebie from Tales of Teaching in Heels again!

 Poetry analysis sheet from Holocaust unit

 Invitation to Write and Express Lane Edit

Argumentative Unit Group Assignment (Forensic Argument)

 Close reading on Walt Whitman Free in my store!

Vital Vocabulary 

Edgar Allan Poe analysis!

I'm beyond excited to try out this *new* system next year and see how the changes work in my classroom. I'm toying with the idea of having them put EVERYTHING in their notebook at the beginning of the year. My ideal world would include all of my handouts being bound into a spiral that I can just pass out to my students, but for now gluing them into notebooks will have to do! 

For those of you who may find the ISN daunting, the best advice I have is to just jump in and try it. You'll find a way that works for you, and it may be totally different from every other teacher who uses it. That's OK! 


  1. Oh hey! Thanks for using my stuff! It's so cool to show how many different ways something can be used! I love how you've taken the Smashbook idea and made it your own :) Awesome!!!
    Tales of Teaching in Heels

  2. Your notebooks are amazing. I love the label idea. You've given me so much to think about. (And can I just say that I'm glad I'm not the only workaholic teacher that spends summers preparing for the next year!) You rock!

  3. Wow! This looks amazing! I love our interactive notebooks. I follow the same idea; it's just a little different in set up. I'm working on revamping mine, but I'm definitely not this organized. Way to go!

  4. Wow! This looks amazing! I love our interactive notebooks. I follow the same idea; it's just a little different in set up. I'm working on revamping mine, but I'm definitely not this organized. Way to go!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this! I absolutely love it, and I too, have a lot to think about in incorporating some of this, as well! Congratulations on your new addition, coming in December. My son was born Dec. 5 and I loved being pregnant around this time of year!!!

    Lit with Lyns

  6. Do you know how many pages you can get into the 3-subject and 5-subject Mead notebooks?

  7. Do you know how many pages you can get into the 3-subject and 5-subject Mead notebooks?

  8. What do you use for the vocabulary and root word study? I think I need to switch mine up! Thanks!

  9. To make your notebook more attractive these ideas are brilliant to have. Students can do effective work in this field so never hesitate to do. These subjects is really helping to explore skills.


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Thanks for stopping by! JW

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