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!


  1. I LOVE the idea of right side for teacher stuff and left side for students learning. Thanks for that amazing tip!
    My Second Sense


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