Interactive math notebooks are gaining huge popularity lately and rightly so. They are highly engaging with students and if managed correctly, can be a game changer in your classroom. If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or my TpT Store, you already realize how much I love Interactive Notebooks. I love them so much that I have created my own for all of the math skills that I teach in 2nd grade. As I use them with my students, we see many successes and we also come upon some challenges. I have also found things that have helped us deal with these challenges so that interactive math notebooks can continue to be beneficial in my classroom. Today I am going to share with you 9 Tips for Organizing Interactive Notebooks.
Spiral vs. Composition Notebook
This one is personal opinion but I feel that the spiral notebooks are better for the little learners. If you teach kindergarten through third grade, I would go with the spiral notebooks because of their size. That being said, the downfall to spiral notebooks is that the pages tend to tear out more easily. I have a solution to this problem…keep reading.
Table of Contents
One way teachers navigate the opportunity for quick referencing is through the use of a table of contents. If you plan to use your interactive notebooks as a resource for your students to look back and previous skills to review or reference their learning, a table of contents might be beneficial for you. One year I had my students number their pages from front to back at the beginning of the year. The next year I had them number the page as they needed it for their activity. The numbered pages are necessary if you plan to use a table of contents. You can grab a free table of contents in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack.
Topic tabs are another form of organizing your students’ interactive notebooks. This is a personal preference option. Some teachers feel these are essential and some prefer to use a table of contents. Depending on how your math series are set up, topic tabs may help keep your students’ content organized. These topic tabs are available in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack and are created by skill and unit number.
Earlier in this post I mentioned page numbers. Here you can see what they look like in our notebooks. These are important if you choose to use a table of contents. I also like them because if I have a certain activity that I want the class to revisit, I can tell them the page number for them to turn to and we are quickly and easily on the same page with little time wasted.
Some teachers prefer this method. Yarn bookmarks are a huge time saver. At the beginning of the year, tie a piece of yarn to the top of the wire spiral of each notebook. Make sure it is a little longer than the length of the notebook. Then train your students to lay their yarn bookmark on their page when they finish working on it. Gone are the days of blank pages being wasted. The next time your student needs to work in their notebook, they can open up to their yarn bookmarked page and be ready to go.
The Great Glue Debate
I get this question all of the time. Do your students use a glue stick or drippy glue? Here’s what I have found. Glue sticks are less messy but the pieces tend to fall off over time. Drippy glue (that’s what we call it) works well for the sticky factor but can be really messy and if they close their notebooks with piles of glue…well, you know the rest of the story…the pages are forever stuck together. I know that some teachers have been very successful with drippy glue because they train their students to use small dots along the edges so if this is you, AWESOME! For me, when it comes to interactive notebooks, we use glue sponges. They are very easy to make. Here’s a tutorial on how it can be done.
Time Consuming and Extra Pieces
A common question that I keep receiving is what to do about the students that take longer with gluing and cutting tasks. They are just finishing their cutting and the rest of the class is finished gluing. Yes, we all have them! First of all, if you have one or two students that struggle with their fine motor skills, don’t hesitate doing part of the cutting job for them. In the end, it is another huge time (and stress) saver. The other helpful tip is to glue or tape a pocket to the back of each student’s interactive notebook. The extra pieces that do not get glued in on time can be stored in there so the child can finish their task when they have time.
Keep the Notebooks out of the Desks
When my students finish their interactive notebook task for the day, they are required to turn them into their Team Tub. The reason that they don’t put them back in their desk is because they are less likely to get damaged if they are in the tubs AND it is easy for me to collect them to grade them (information about grading in part two of this series)! Additionally, I like to keep these tubs close to my desk so that it is easy for me to grab and grade as I have the time. Let’s face it, I’m all about keeping things as efficient as possible! The team tub labels can be found in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack.
Prep Ahead of Time
My last organizational/storage tip for you is this…do as much prep in the summer or on the weekends as you possibly can! Trust me, it will make your life so much easier! I have all of my interactive notebook pages assembled and I keep them in a binder. Each topic has its own tab so I can quickly find what I need. This system works well for me!
I hope that you learned at least one tip from this post that can help you with implementing interactive notebooks into your classroom! If you are looking to get started with these OR if you are looking to add to your collection of interactive notebooks, I have created an entire year’s worth of interactive notebooks for your students. Grab your copy by clicking on the photo below.