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How many of you use Interactive Notebooks?
Old 03-28-2008, 04:18 PM
 
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How much of your grade is assigned to the notebook?

How often do you grade them?

Do you have a rubric?

I love using ISNs but am constantly tweeking them as need arises (every class is different and has different needs) and as I find great ideas.

For those of you not familiar with them, you can check out

http://interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com/

Those of you who do use them, become a member and add your ideas.


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2nd year
Old 03-30-2008, 05:34 AM
 
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This is my second year using them, and I do love them. I am still tweeking. Sometimes I grade certain pages and sometimes I give the notebook a grade. I do have a very generic rubric I use at times. I grade them once or twice a unit. I teach US history, so for example when we did the American Revolution I graded it after we covered the causes and again after the war.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:20 PM
 
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Hi,

My name is Nathan Samson and I teach 12th Grade Economics and U.S. Government at a high school in California. This is my second full year with my own classroom.
Yes, I use an interactive notebook. My students have very low academic abilitiies, not to mention very little motivation. In other words, they are extremely lazy.
Using a notebook helps them to organize and systematize information. Since they have little to no skills whatsoever, the notebook counts for a very large part of their grades, roughly 50%. Since their writing is so horrendous, I almost balk at the idea of written tests. I give less tests than most teachers and rely more on the interactive notebook.
Unfortunately, I have not taken the time to create rubrics for the interactive notebook assignments. This is a good idea and I should do more of it. I am just so burned out by the end of the day; I simply do not have the energy. I put the directions, written , for the assignment on the board, or the screen that convey a computer image via an LCD projector. That is a very nice tool. You should inquire if your school has one or not. It also hooks up to the internet.
I would like to carry on this conversation, and extend it for awhile. I would be very greatful. It would complete a requirement for the BTSA induction program, which is part of the credentialing process in California.
How do you structure your interactive notebook? I would be curious to know.


Yours,

Nathan Samson
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What I do
Old 04-10-2008, 05:13 AM
 
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Hi, Nathan:

Did you check out the linked wiki? There are many examples and we have just started a page on rubrics.

I teach 5-8 Social Studies, which is considerably younger than your students. In fifth grade I really walk them through it. It is more teacher directed than anything, but it helps when I get them in subsequent years. Each year I have to do less and less with that. (I am in a small school so pretty much get the same students every year)

1. After several years of doing left (teacher) right (student), I have gone to doing the notebook sequentially. The page extensions were becoming cumbersome but yet they were necessary because I have some that write so large, that what would normally easily fit on one page was not working. Sequentially has worked great. I still follow the essence of what an ISN is.

2. We always preview the chapter looking at the headings, pictures, and first lines of each paragraph. Then we summarize what we think the chapter is about and they make the cover page.

3. HA is very weak in vocab development. We spend a day on on the vocab from the book plus whatever vocab I am adding as I do not rely on the book to be my whole curriculum. Definitions are written in the book. The next day we respond to it. I usually give them at least two choices, such as drawing pictures or diagrams, labeling them with the vocab words, making foldables, etc.

4. From there we have the teacher notes - maybe the first half of the period - and then the second half they respond to it. Sometimes I have something specific to do and sometimes they get a choice. As they get more comfortable with the process I will ask for suggestions.

In the beginning it takes forever to get through a section, but pretty soon it becomes routine.

A rubric is important if you are using their notebooks for the majority of the grade. Check the link for some examples.

I am curious. What is the other 50% of your grade if you do not give written tests? How do you assess their learning besides the notebooks?
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Old 04-11-2008, 09:18 PM
 
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Hi,

Thanks for replying back. I appreciate it. I am clearing my credential this year and this tread, or conversation, is one of the requirements.
You ask a very good question. I give some traditional tests, i.e., multiple choice questions, with some short answers, to assess their learning. However, I don't give that many. There is a reason.
I can also guage their level of understanding to a certain degree through informal assessments, such as lack of participation, and to be quite honest, if I call on a particular student, and he/she gives me a lot of attitude, I know that she doesn't have a clue. The student in a tone of voice will bemoan: whey are you calling on me with a lot of attitude?
Oh, yes, not to be condescending, I call on those who love to talk and yet were not paying very close attention at all. You can tell by the wrong answer they give you, but for some reason they have a need to say something.
You see, truth be told, I don't use the tests that come with the book, because our population has a lot of trouble understanding them. I write a lot of my own tests, many of which are not the traditional ways of assessing the students.
For example, I had a test on the Bill of Rights and the Six Constitutional Principles on which our government is built. So, I had them create a web, or spoke diagram as the case may be, for three out of the six constitutional principle which they picked from the list. I wrote out the six principles on the test itself. Then, they were required to give me three pieces of information inside each spoke, web, or circle, call it what you want.
They had to write down the constitutional principle. THey had to give me a brief description. THey had to draw a simple but accurate illustration that matched the principle, or term, and brief definition in their own terms. I was certainly able to assess them. For our population, this worked because they can't write grammatically complete sentences at a 12th grade level. Most seem like they are writing at a 9th grade level, if even that. Many are probably writing far below a 9th grade level. So, I have created alternative tests that I give from time to time.
In addition, I give some tradtional tests. I mix it up.
At our school, it is not unheard of to enhance the grades, so to speak, since their academic skills are so low.
It is really sad. I am not the only one to voice such an opinion. In fact, many do not make it past the first year in college, since they can't write that well and their reading comprehension is very low. And the saddest thing of all: they have no will to learn. A very, very small sliver of our students have a will to learn and that is it.
I know what you mean by the page extensions becoming very cumbersome. I reflected and said forget it. I am not going to do the left/right thing or have them glue a table of contents page into their notebooks this year. Much, much better. So many last year kept such sloppy records, and are so lazy, I was not getting an accurate ledger on the table of contents page.
THis year I just had them write the title of the assignment at the top of the page and that's it. I don't even have them paste in handouts on the left side. I put the info on the screen via an LCD projector that is hooked up to a computer. Much more compact and easy that way. They are then free to use whatever page they happen to have available in their notebooks and they don't have to align it to my page count. Ah, the things you learn from experience, or getting burned.
Let us keep up the dialogue. I enjoyed writing about it.
I would like to know what you think.
You seem like a methodical teacher.

Yours,

Mr. Nathan Samson
De Anza High School


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what i do and questions for wig
Old 04-12-2008, 02:10 PM
 
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Hi Nathan! Love the notebooks, love to talk about them, love to tweak them, so I'm happy to chime in and help out with your assignment as well.

I teach sixth grade social studes, so again, my students are much younger than yours, but I find the notebooks a wonderful organizational tool.

I do maintain the left is for learning, right is for reflection. Honestly, it helps me I think more than the children. I look at the notes page as dealing with the lower level of bloom's and the right side as addressing the higher levels, so it helps keep my planning "on track".

I use a composition notebook, and their notes are either handouts that we read and mark-up together, question strips that they answer and we review, or fill in the blank outlines from a mini-lecture. Since these are usually printed and then glued in, I don't have a major problem with keeping everyone on the "same page". If I have a student who writes really big, I teach them how to make "flippy pages" to extend the page.

I use my textbook as a resource only. Like Wig, at the beginning of a unit we do a picture walk and preview the content. Students then make a title page for the unit.

After the title page, I include a list of vocabulary for the unit on the left page. We do several activities with this throughout the unit, but on the right hand side next to it, students choose 1 of 9 "vocabulary options". I've included the use/recognition of SS vocabulary as part of the rubric I'm tweaking next year. I really like Wig's idea of making it part of a daily warm-up. As you can see, notebooks are always a work in progress

On a typical notebook day, my students complete a warm-up, the teacher side, and then the student response side. I try to give them options, at least a choice of two.

My students are given a rubric at the beginning of the year that is glued in to their notebooks. I grade individual assignments, the left-right spread. For the first three to five assignments, I put an image of an assignment up on my smartboard (your lcd would do fine) and we grade it together with the rubric. This seems to help my students get a better feel for what they are looking for.

I also let the students do a gallery walk every so often - once a week at first. I ask the students to open their notebooks to the assignment they are the most proud of and have them put a sticky note on it. The students then walk around and look at everyone else's best assignment, and if they are moved to, they write a comment on the note.

Anyway, that's what I do, and ask away if you have any questions.


Wig, Could you talk a little more about how you handle your vocabulary? Also, do you have the kids write a summary of the chapter or is that something you do orally?
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Wig, Could you talk a little more about how you handle your vocabulary? Also, do you have the kids write a summary of the chapter or is that something you do orally?
Vocabulary varies.
  • crossword puzzle
  • illustrate
  • write the definition
  • matching

By chapter I assume you mean the book plus whatever I add to it. That also varies.

Some of the processing pages form the ISN that come with the series are pretty good and I will use that.

Other things:
  • Put them in a small group and they make a poster that summarizes what they have learned.
  • write a paragraph. (Boring, but useful)
  • Sometimes a map is appropriate. For manifest destiny I gave them a map of the united states and they mapped, colored and labeled the expansion, writing a short paragraph in the section summarizing each area of expansion, I blow up a map to 11 x 18 so there is room.
  • occasionally I will find a political cartoon that "says it all" but they have to tell me what it says.

When we are presssed for time we will summarize orally.

I'd love to hear what others have done.

Last edited by wig; 04-12-2008 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 04-12-2008, 07:13 PM
 
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Hi,

You have an interesting insight. You wrote,

'I do maintain the left is for learning, right is for reflection. Honestly, it helps me I think more than the children. I look at the notes page as dealing with the lower level of bloom's and the right side as addressing the higher levels, so it helps keep my planning "on track". '

I never thought of looking at the matter that way. In practice, that is what is happening, because the students need to transform the information you give them to write down or put in their notebooks.

Yeah, it got to be cumbersome having them paste stuff into their notebooks. I have found that their notebooks are much cleaner without having them paste things in it. Most of the students are so dyfunctional, they end up turning in a notebook that is crumpled and ragged looking. There are a few students who manage to keep it neat and tidy. They are in the minority.

I found my students to be very passive when copying notes. I have them do something interactive with the notebook all the time. They will read for a purpose and take notes in a certain format, such as a t-chart or Cornell format. They have taken laziness to new heights, so that when they take notes, they are not doing anything with it. I guess that is why you have the right hand side of the notebook, so that they do something with the notes. Instead, I just put the information, mostly directions, on the board and then they go at it, very very slowly, and slotfully. Anyway, there are those few, who, even before the bell rings, have their notebooks out and are writing down the assignment.

I thought it was interesting, and a good idea for that matter, that you grade assignments as a class using rubrics, the first three to five at the beginning of the year to give them a sense of how it works. I may have to try that. What is the name of the websites with rubrics? Nothing like models and modeling. A big part of teaching revolves around it.

My models contain the sturcutre for the assignment that day, but contain content for a different them or subject. That is, if they are going to do an illustrated outline on the history of political parties in America, I will put an illustrated outline on the screen for the history of democracy since the Greeks, something like that. I found that last year they were merely copying the same model on the board, even though I said they could not do that.


Yours,

Mr. Samson
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Old 04-12-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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Hi,

Yeah, I have them create illustrated dictionary definitions. They define the term in their own words and then create an illustration, draw a picture, that matches the each term. It works to some degree.

Finally, one of the sharper kids who acts his age asked if he could just write out the defintion, because he was not a 2 year old. OK. I have no problem with that.

As a warm-up, I will put the defintions on the board and they will need to find that in the text, since the key terms are highlighted in bold. They will need to match them to the correct term. It gets them thinking about the chapter they are going to read.
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Rubrics and gluing
Old 04-13-2008, 03:31 AM
 
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Good morning, Nathan! If you will look at Wig's original post, it has the wiki address about the notebooks. Also, if you google "interactive notebook rubrics" you will come up with several. Then I recommend that you tweak them to accurately reflect what you want to assess.

I had never really had problems with gluing before this year, but my children this year are a bit more immature and wanted to play with the glue. To solve this, I have them glue in all of their handouts for the entire week on Monday. I set a timer and then I take the glue up. This has been a huge help as having more to glue has kept them focused.


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Old 04-13-2008, 04:34 AM
 
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Quote:
I have them glue in all of their handouts for the entire week on Monday.
ancientciv: I do the same thing mostly because in the long run it saves time. We practice the five dot method - one in each corner and one in the middle - at the beginning of the year. If they can't master it, we spend a lunch period practicing it. They learn quickly. Sometimes I will just walk around the room with a glue bottle and "dot it" myself. Many of mine have glue sticks so it is not an issue. I trim down the pages with the paper cutter because there are always those that forget their scissors and it saves time and a mess. The only negative for me is anticipating how many pages to leave between the handouts. I have been getting better. Occasionally I actually DO want a left/right orientation. For instance, I may give them a political cartoon to paste of the left and they will respond on the right. It is easier than flipping back and forth.

Quote:
As a warm-up, I will put the definitions on the board and they will need to find that in the text, since the key terms are highlighted in bold. They will need to match them to the correct term. It gets them thinking about the chapter they are going to read.
nathan: That's a good idea. I just finished typing up a vocab sheet for the next section based on your idea. I have words not in the text, so I called them mystery words with a bonus point for figuring out the meaning of the word that is not in their text.

Quote:
My students are given a rubric at the beginning of the year that is glued in to their notebooks.
ancientciv: This is the first year I have done that based on what what you had mentioned last summer. I love that idea because they know exactly what I am looking for. I shrunk it up to half a page and when I go through their notebooks, I mark the rubric and glue to the last page of the notebook. I usually grade their notebooks while they are doing the assessment.


Another thing I do occasionally is give a notebook quiz - or even a chapter assessment where they can use their notebooks. I do this when I notice the info in the notebooks are getting skimpier.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:28 AM
 
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Hi Everyone,

That is a great idea to glue everything into the notebook at the beginning of the week on Monday. That gives me food for thought.

Sometimes, as a warm-up, I have them copy down three key terms on the right hand side of their paper, and copy down three defintions on the left-hand side of their paper in the order that it is written on the board or sreen as the case may be. This is the same piece of paper in their notebooks, not on two separate sheets of paper. Then, I have at least six definitions on the screen and they have to connect the key term to the correct definiton by drawing a line. There is a great website that lets you create definitions called studystack.com. It is free to both teachers and students. Just register for it. It has a grid, as one of its features, with both the term and the definition. You can hide the term and just show the definition, if you like. It is quite versatile. Also, it has electronic study cards that flip over, showing both the term and definition, hangman for the terms that you entered into the computer, unscramble the letters to form a word, etc. I sometimes use that website to do the warm-up.

Wig, do you use that one rubric for all the assignments you have them glue in the back of the book? Curious to know. So, how do your kids respond to the rubric that you go over with them as a whole class? I guess I should start something like that. I will need to check out your website.

Yours,

Nathan
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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Wig, do you use that one rubric for all the assignments you have them glue in the back of the book? Curious to know. So, how do your kids respond to the rubric that you go over with them as a whole class? I guess I should start something like that. I will need to check out your website.
Yes, because it is pretty general. If I have something I want to grade separately from the notebook. they turn it in to me.
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:07 PM
 
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I finally looked at the page with the rubrics. I see the general rubric for the notebook itself. I now understand how this general rubric is used. It is similar to the one suggested in History Alive. Yes, as for the structure of the notebook, it is very good and would certainly give students an idea as to how the notebook is suppose to be laid out and that one of the factors that comprise its grade is neatness. I get so many that are terribly sloppy and you can't make out heads nor tails as to what they wrote down. They have put no commitment into doing the work with thought or devotion. They are rushing through the work.

Yours,

Nathan
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Old 12-26-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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Hi Nathan,
Just trying to find out if you are my cousin from San Francisco.
Elaine Samson
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:30 AM
 
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I just recently (2 weeks ago) took over a history class, so now that I have a break to get things together, I plan on using a similar concept, but as packets. It will basically be the same thing. They have to keep their notes followed by the processing assignment for those notes. They will turn it in about once a week for a grade. One question I have is other than vocab worde, what do you use for warm-up acivities?
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Old 12-27-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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Teacherdude - there are all kinds of things you can do for warm ups

vocabulary
review questions
journal prompts
drawing activities
picture analysis

Regarding packets - I saw a teacher do the neatest thing. She had them keep each unit in a separate three-prong folder. That might work for you.
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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I like that idea, but I'll have to save it for next year so I have time to buy the cheap folders from stores during the summer. That seems like a lot of folders.
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