The first year I used Interactive Science Notebooks, almost all of the content on the pages was determined by me. Instead of notebooking, my 5th graders were actually just taking notes. Interactive Science Notebooks should include student choice and reflection. One of the key features of notebooks was missing! As I learned more about how interactive notebooks should be used, I vowed to turn note-taking into notebooking.
Based on my research and experience with upper elementary students, I have 3 tips for teachers who want to turn note-taking into notebooking.
1. Students complete output pages.
After the input activity (the day’s lab, fold-ups, stations, activities, etc.), students use an entire page in their notebook to reflect on their learning in the way that they choose. Check out this free guide to Interactive Science Notebook Output.
2. Students communicate about their learning.
Using Whole Brain Teaching, Kagan structures, and sharing, students communicate about what they are learning. I take a moment to have students turn and talk about what we just discussed. I ask questions and have students talk about their answers with a partner. When students ask questions, student pairs talk about the answers. We make up and use hands motions, chants, and movement around the classroom during the lesson.
3. Students decide what to write and draw.
Instead of copying everything I write, students have some choice as to what is written and drawn. In upper elementary, we’ll often decide as a class what is important or ask the class for ideas on what they would draw or write about the topic/activity to remember it later.
After incorporating these 3 practices, my students took ownership of their notebooks, learned more, communicated more, thought more, and ultimately retained more.
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