Let’s face it: helping your students to stay engaged in class can be difficult. Traditional note taking has often been a long, arduous process for both teachers and students to go through. It’s a monotonous, linear activity that allows for little engagement and even less creativity on the student’s end. With interactive student notebooks, or ISNs, however, all that starts to change. By enabling your students to process your course’s information in their own way while allowing a space for them to let their creativity flow, they’ll become more active learners and ultimately have a better overall class experience.
Here’s what you need to know about these great study tools
The greatest thing about an interactive notebook is it’s made up of a whole slew of different things. Generally speaking, it’s a student created text book personalized throughout a course. That text book holds an amalgamation of systemically organized creative diagrams, flip books, foldables (and more!) hosting targeted need-to-know information for the particular subject it covers. “The reasoning behind interactive notebooks originated with instructional strategies such as note taking, concept mapping, and organization of information as well as brain research about how students learn best. Interactive notebooks combine all of this research into one instructional method to promote student learning.” (Wist 2016)
Why are Interactive Student Notebooks Great?
1) Interactive Student Notebooks Help Students Organize Information
One of the hardest parts of synthesizing new material for any student is trying to present it in a way that makes sense for referring back to them later. It’s easy to copy notes from the board verbatim; however, how much help do notes like these tend to be later on? Interactive notebook pages often divide new material into bite sized chunks which are easier for students to digest.
While an ISN is a personalized student textbook there will inevitably be a portion that’s distributed by the teacher - and that’s just fine! The important thing is that each assignment or piece of information you give your students is actively learned. Following this even with something as simple as your class rules can make students follow and understand them much better! For example, requiring students to highlight (or describe) the biggest 2 points from a particular handout in their own words keeps the ball in their court in terms of active learning. It also allows you to provide a framework for classwork.
2) Interactive Student Notebooks Help Students Express Themselves
Interactive notebooks allow students to flex their creative muscles while learning important class material at the same time. Open any ISN and you’ll likely find pages that have been manipulated to display recorded information in a new way. Pages may be cut, pasted, folded, colored on, etc. Flaps may hide certain sections to divide material into small chunks. Flip books may gradually lead students to develop a deeper understanding of certain material. By using more than just their writing skills, students are able to approach their learning objectives from multiple angles. Every ISN should also be full of student expression of information. Students should have space to write in their own words (or to draw/express in their own way) what each of those creative note pages they have completed is trying to teach them. This keeps them engaged and gives them the responsibility of making sure they understand the material!
Note Page Examples:
3) Interactive Notebooks Help Students’ Link Material Which Increases Retention
How many times did you write page upon page of class notes down throughout your education, only to toss them in your backpack and never look at them again? Interactive notebooks solve this problem by transforming a student’s class notes into a reference. Students simply have to turn a page or two to review the material they previously mastered. With old information at their fingertips it is easy to draw connections between what students already comprehend and new material. This kind of relationship with lecture material is absolutely indispensable as a student.
4) Interactive Notebooks Make Monitoring For Misunderstandings Easy
Since ISN’s are used to record individual students personalized understanding of material, they are a fantastic place to check a student’s comprehension level. Quickly scanning a student’s input in their notebook is an easy way to check for deficiency in a student’s comprehension.
If you haven’t tried interactive student notebooks yet, what are you waiting for?
Download a Free Interactive Intro to Exponents Flip Book by clicking the picture below!
Wist, Caroline. Putting it all Together; Understanding the Research Behind Interactive Notebooks. Retrieved August 13, 2015 from: http://tccl.rit.albany.edu/knilt/images/d/d0/Interactive_Notebooks_Research.pdf.