I used Interactive Notebooks for years in my classroom. I love the idea of Interactive Notebooks. I think it is vital to teach students to save important information as they are learning. I used Interactive Notebooks as a hands-on approach to notetaking, providing my students with a go-to place to house their learning. I use to call ours, "Our Scholar Book of Knowledge." Interactive Notebooks have many benefits, but after a while, I became frustrated with some of the aspects of routinely using them in the classroom. First, I grew to hate having students cut and glue things in their spiral notebooks. It took forever, and my room always looked like a herd of hampsters had overtaken it. Oh, the paper! The tiny bits of paper all over everything...
AND, the glue!! For goodness sakes, you would think that middle school students would have mastered this skill!
Even when no cutting or gluing was involved, our notebooks took time. They took time to find them, to write notes and to organize. I had other problems too. Students would lose them and there was no way to make up a semesters worth of notes. Even student absences were an issue. I would have to help them fill in their missing sections. I was ready to bail on the notebooks. I needed a change.
A coworker and I decided that we would go digital with our notebooks. We needed a platform and we decided to use Google Slides. Slides are great for presentations, but also make magnificent platforms for digital learning. I had already used slides for interactive lessons and digital scavenger hunts, but we decided to take digital learning with Google Slides to the NEXT LEVEL. Going Digital with my Interactive Notebooks has fundamentally changed my teaching.
I have used Interactive Digital Notebooks or IDNs in my classroom for 7 months now. The benefits of going digital with my notebooks will require more than a single post. It has been a remarkable experience. In future posts, I will provide practical advice for getting started, as well as tips I have learned along the way, but for now, let me share some of the benefits I found.
Going digital saves paper. I spend a lot less time at the copier AND I'm killing way fewer trees.
Students cannot lose Digital Notebooks! My students' notebooks are always safely located in their Google Drives.
Students can always access their notebooks. As long as my students have an internet connection, they can access their Digital Interactive Notebooks from anywhere. They can even access their notebooks on their phones!
If a student is absent, I can post my presentation notes on Google Classroom and catch them up, easy-peasy.
Because I share our notebooks with my students through Google Classroom, I can see their notebooks at any time, and anywhere. No more notebooks piled up on my desk waiting for me to grade.
Digital Notebooks are interactive in a way that paper notebooks can never be. I can provide students to links to websites and I can embed videos. I can have them write in notes or annotate a reading selection. They can compose a written response or they can simply interact with a slide by moving things around to demonstrate and/or build their learning. The possibilities are truly endless and I can't wait to share them!
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Thinking about going digital with your interactive notebooks? Oh, where to begin? I started with my curriculum and what I am required to teach each grading period. Then, I decided to use Google Slides as my platform for creating my Digital Interactive Notebooks or DINs. Google Slides are great for presentations, but Slides can also be an amazing platform for both teaching and student learning. Slides allow for the embedding of links and video. Content can also include text and pictures which can be manipulated and/or moved around to demonstrate learning. Slides also feature the amazing Explore Tool which provides students with a controlled, safe resource for research, embedding their own pictures, etc. The possibilities are just endless and I think, even after a year, that I have just scratched the surface of what I can do with slides!
I decided early on that I wanted some continuity with my notebooks. Slides default at widescreen - 16:9. I change the size to 8.5:11. I want our notebooks to mimic paper notebooks AND 8.5:11 means I can easily print out pages of our notebook if I ever need to. I also decided to create a notebook per grading period. Each grading period our DINs easily contain a hundred + slides. This is because our Digital Notebooks contain our reading selections in addition to our literary concepts. It is an all in one teaching & studying tool. Our notebooks are the foundation for all our learning and we used them daily.
Each DINs has a cover slide where students add their name. The cover helps to make the notebook their own and makes the resource a little more formal. In addition, as students add their own names, I get to teach them some cool skills which I need them to know like how to change the font, the size, the color, etc. Our Notebooks also include our student objectives for our current grading period. It is important to me that students know what our academic focus is.
In my district, every grading period focuses in on a Literary Genre. In our DINs students know upfront what they will be expected to learn.
There are some things I have learned along the way. First, when building your notebook remember, you are not limited to the slide. Digital Interactive Notebooks are typically not used in presentation mode.
For example, when reviewing Growth and Fixed Mindsets in our first grading period's DIN, students would simply drag and drop to sort Fixed and Growth Mindset statements.
This allowed for a quick check of their level of comprehension. Notice that when Google Slides is in edit mode, the foreground of the slide is a usable space. In our Growth Mindset activity, the foreground housed our mindset statements. Other times, the foreground became where we annotated our stories. Cool right?!
Whatever your subject, whatever your grade, going digital with your Interactive Notebooks can be a powerful way to take your student learning to the NEXT LEVEL!
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