Interactive Notebooks: Literacy Edition... PART 1

It's a little known fact (I'm probably the only one who knows this) that I started this blog over a year ago to share my experiences with interactive notebooks. Last year I just used them in science, but this year, my team and I have expanded to social studies, reading, writing, and math. Yes, we went from one notebook to FIVE because they are just that engaging!

Just so we're all on the same page... 
My Definition of an Interactive Notebook:
A place where students can take information from the teacher and merge it with their own thinking. Most of my training has come from Jane Pollock, who has written many books, including the infamous Classroom Strategies that Work (yes friends, Marzano had help!) There are many ways to set up the notebooks. In my notebooks, I divide it into left side and right side. The left side is the "student side" and the right side is the "teacher side." On the right side, the students take down the new information they've received from the teacher, whether it be plain old notes or a handout, graphic organizer, foldable, etc. that are glued right into the notebook. On the left side is where the students use thinking strategies to "interact" with the new information. They record their thoughts about the information to demonstrate their understanding of what was learned.

I've been seeing a lot of interactive notebook products pop up on TPT lately, and they're not cheap. I'm sure they all have good points; but honestly, I really don't think you need a flashy song and dance to do interactive notebooks effectively. The key word is INTERACTIVE, and many of these products appear to be craftivities or cutesy art projects. Now, I have not purchased these products, so again, maybe there is some rigor and validity here, but from the previews and photos I've seen, I haven't seen much application of the content. I'm not trying to make sellers mad or take sales away from anyone. It's true that these products can be time savers, but I'm just trying to say that anyone can do this with some research and innovation.
Climbing off of Soap Box...

Today I want to share my literacy notebooks. I'll be honest; this notebook scared me the most. I think it's because there we have SO many literacy standards and objectives. How do you organize it all???

I use the Daily 5/CAFE programs in my classroom, so my first thought was to get a 3-subject notebook.  I came up with this plan last spring: the first subject would be an interactive notebook for CAFE strategies. Then the second subject we would use for Write about your Reading (instead of Work on Writing... long story. I'll explain in another post), and the third subject for Word Work.

I was all set to go with my *genius* plan, and then my teammie came up with an even better idea! We have 3 curriculum frameworks in my district: reading, writing, and phonics. Literally the day before I was set to start, she said, "What about giving each framework one of the sections in the notebook?" I was on board in a heartbeat! Now we kinda wish we would've asked the kids to bring a 5 subject notebook... Oh well. Next year!

Here's the notebook from the outside:
I know. Boring, right? You're supposed to have the kids decorate the cover so that they "buy into" the notebook. We just haven't gotten to that step yet.

Each subject of the notebook is labeled on the side. Read HERE about how I made my tabs durable :)

Subject 1: Reading
As I said above, we use CAFE to teach reading strategies. So on the first four pages, we're going to list the strategies as we learn them:
Haven't learned any Fluency strategies yet...
Or Expanding Vocabulary...
Then the rest of this section of the notebook is going to be a mish-mash of strategies. I was trying to figure out if I could group all of the comprehension strategies, accuracy strategies, etc., but the problem is that I don't know how many pages I will need for each strategy. So we will just put them in as we learn them. Here's the first one... well actually two: Check for Understanding and Back Up and Reread. I put them on the same page because they kind of go hand-in hand.

For these pages, we wrote the definitions of the strategies and then students drew pictures to help them remember what they mean. On the top, the girl is stopping {stop sign} and checking {check marks} for understanding, and at the bottom, the car is backing up. Imagine my whole class saying, "Beep! Beep! Beep!" like they're a truck backing up!

Next we learned about visualizing. I LOVE these pages!!

Let's take a closer look! Here's the info side:
I think most of it's self-explanatory, but I must tell you about the light bulb! They are sticky notes I bought from the dollar spot at Target this summer. I wasn't sure how I was going to use them, but then I came up with this. We will write the "big ideas" that I want students to remember about each strategy on the light bulb sticky notes.

Here's the right side... the application/thinking side:
On this side, we practiced visualizing. On to top, I reread a chapter from our read aloud book, The World According to Humphrey, when the dog comes after Humphrey the hamster. Then at the bottom we read Do Not Open and students visualized what the monster looked like to them. I did this last year {read about it HERE}, but I love how we can now do these activities in our notebooks and refer back to them.

We are currently learning about literary texts, story elements, and retelling; however, I forgot to snap pics of those pages. I'll add those later this weekend :)

Wow this post is getting long! I think I'll stop here and pop back in next week with the phonics and writing sections of my literacy notebook. Stay tuned!


Surviving Show and Tell

I loathe Show and Tell. Mostly because it goes something like this:

Johnny: This is my Lego rocket ship I built...
(Every single hand goes up)
Bobby: I have that rocket ship too!
Billy: So do I!
Katie: My rocket ship is bigger. It has 1,000 pieces!
Tommy: Well, mine has 3,000 pieces!!!
Sarah: I have a Lego doll house!!


I get that the audience is excited and they all have connections about the item(s) being shared, but come on! This isn't about you, bunnies! Here's my solution to this problem.

The sharer can take 3 questions or comments. The questions or comments must be related to the sharer and his/her item. So, let's go back to the rocket ship that Johnny shared. Kids could ask questions like, "How long did it take you to build it?" or "How many pieces does it have?" They can make comments, such as, "That's really cool!" or "I can tell you worked hard to build that." 

Now what about those kids who are just dying to tell about their rocket ship? They do this:
This is actually my 4-year-old li'l guy. I wasn't about to recreate Show and Tell just so I could snap a pic for you all LOL!
They take their thumbs and point to themselves. That signals to me that they have a connection to the item being shared, without saying a word. I will smile and nod at those kids, acknowledging that I now know they have a really cool rocket ship at home as well. I'm telling you, this works like a dream!!! This way the focus stays on the sharer, but the other kids don't feel "silenced" either.


FIVE for Friday!

I can't believe it's been this long since I've linked up. Going on two whole months!

This week I'm sharing five things that happened today... ON FRIDAY! :)

Blah. I am not a fan of Show and Tell. But our class earned 25 points for good behavior, and when that happens, they can choose a special reward. They chose Show and Tell.... cringe... I suppose it could've been worse (like when I was 38 weeks pregnant and the bunnies wanted to have a Hershey Kiss Hunt in the classroom, where I had to crawl around the room and hide Hershey Kisses. But I digress.).

Here are some of the highlights
A giant puffer fish.
No Show and Tell is complete without an American Girl doll.
This helicopter had a spinning propellor, lit up, and made noises! SO COOL!
And to round things off, we had some deer antlers. Lovely...
We go to the library every Friday for a check out. We could stay all day, I swear!
These boys were going crazy over this dinosaur book!
This little love was searching for a book on Sacagawea (sp?)
Doesn't she look so comfy??? I asked her if they made this dress in big girl sizes for me :)

On every early release day, the staff at my school have some sort of group lunch. Whether it's a pot-luck or we order out, it's always a great time! This time, we got Chinese. Here's my fortune:
I'm not quite sure what this fortune means, but it's kind of exciting!
My team and I all ordered these shirts! Here's 2/3 of our team. The other girl's doesn't fit anymore because she's preggo, so we made her our photographer. We'll try again for a full team photo in March :)
Pay NO attention to my awful hair. I don't even try to make it look pretty when the humidity is so high!



Student Notebook Organization Quick Tip

We have been Interactive Notebooking Fanatics this year! I'm working on a MEGA post, but today I want to share how I section off parts of the notebook.

First you write on the sticky note and stick it onto the cover or page.
Then you cover the front and back with clear packing tape.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy! With all these notebooks though, I swear I need to buy stock in Post It Notes and clear packaging tape...



It's time to link up with the awesome Farley for this month's Currently!

Listening: I'm torn. I've been a Red Wings fan for as long as I can remember, but tonight they're playing the Buffalo Sabres. One of my brother's childhood friends plays for the Sabres (Drew Stafford), so we always cheer for him, but....... GO RED WINGS!!!

Loving/Needing: So we got a call Sunday afternoon that our daughter's day care had flooded during the night. They were in the process of getting a new roof, and I guess the roofers didn't put the tarps on correctly. Her day care would be closed on Monday. Ugh. Great. Then on Monday we got another call that it was a lot worse than they thought, and now they wouldn't be open until Thursday. THURSDAY!!! Thankfully the hubs was able to take off on Monday, my dad and a lady from church helped out on Tuesday, and then I had to take a personal day today. I was annoyed at first, but it turned out to be a super fun day with my baby girl. We went to the zoo and had lunch.
Happy Hump Day!
It's been fun, but after 3 days of scrambling, we are ready to get back into our routine tomorrow.

Thinking: I love Thursdays. Why, you ask? Well, I have a 40 minute music prep in the morning and an 80 minute art prep in the afternoon. It's so amazing! So far this year I have been able to get my weekly newsletter written and a great head start on my lesson plans for the upcoming week.

Wanting: Speaking of my newsletter, does someone want to write it for me? Because I really don't...

Treat: I whipped this up the other day to practice checking for understanding after Read to Self. I wasn't planning on sharing it because it's not overly cute, but hey, it gets the job done.
Click on the pic!

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