The INs and Outs: Interactive Notebooks {A Blog Series}

I'm really excited to bring this new blog series to you throughout the month of February:
I've been seeing a lot of posts on blogs and social media, as well as products on Teachers Pay Teachers, and I thought to myself, "Why not throw my opinion out there too?" I've hinted on this blog and on Instagram that we are notebookers in my class, but I really haven't shared my perspective. Until now :) 


I actually started this blog 2.5 years ago to document my journey, successes, and failures with interactive notebooks, but then I ended up posting a bunch of random thoughts about my classroom, teaching, and life in general. So I'm thinking it's time to get back to my roots!


Here's a brief history of my experience with interactive notebooks (INs). In the summer of 2012 I went to a 2 day training with Jane Pollock (co-author of Classroom Instruction that Works, and author of Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time, and her book that has most of her information on INs is Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time) on how to implement INs. At that time, I was the only K-2 teacher at my school (and perhaps the only one in my district, but I can't remember now) who was on this pilot committee. During the 2012-2013 school year, I used INs in science. One of my teammates was also interested in INs, so we developed lessons & units together and saw AWESOME engagement! We alternate between science and social studies, and I remember how unenthusiastic my students were when we would switch to social studies. That year, I met with the pilot group once a month to share successes and failures, as well as three times that year one-on-one with Janie. Towards the end of the year, my third teammate saw all the amazing things our second graders were learning with the notebooks, she decided to jump on board with us. That summer, I attended another 1 day training with Janie on using INs in the primary classroom.

The following year in 2013-2014, my two teammates and I were so completely sold on INs that we jumped in the deep end of the pool! We used INs in reading, writing, phonics, science, and social studies that year. I also used one in math, while the other two chose not to. Since my district uses a math series (EveryDay Math), I found it to be harder to use an IN in math because we also have student workbooks.

This year (2014-2015), I am continuing to use INs in all subject, but this year, I'm tweaking them to including more engaging application activities for my lessons, specifically in phonics. You may have seen my phonics interactive notebook products in my TpT store. Additionally, I am also writing my Professional Development Plan for my Wisconsin Teaching Licensure on using INs in the classroom, which I will be submitting at the end of this school year.

So, in my opinion, I think I know what I'm talking about :) Am I an Interactive Notebook Queen? Not by a long shot! I still have plenty to learn, and I certainly don't want to come across as a know-it-all snob. My goal is to show you that everyone can create and implement interactive notebooks lessons and units.


So now that you know a little about my background and history with interactive notebooks, here's my plan. For the month of February, I will be sharing 7 additional posts to show how I plan and teach with interactive notebooks. Here's the line up:
PSSST! You're reading the first post in this series right now! :)
I'm not going to set specific dates for each post (in order to retain as much of my sanity as possible!), but I'll be sure to let you know on Facebook and Instagram when a new post goes live.

Do you have anything you've been wondering about interactive notebooks? Leave me a comment, and I'll incorporate your questions into my future posts!

Quick Links to Posts in This Series:

For more Interactive Notebook ideas, check out my Pinterest board! 


  1. I love that you are doing this. I use INs in my class but it always seems like we create a page and never end up looking at it again. How do you make sure you go back and revisit the pages and when you do revisit a page what exactly do you have your kids do with the page? Thanks!

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    1. Oooh that is a GREAT question!! For me, it's different for each subject. In science and social studies, since the units are so specific, it's kind of "one-and-done." Although I send my notebooks home a few days before the test so that they can study, and they can also use their notebooks on the test. For math, we have spiral review workbook pages every day, so if my students get to a problem they're having trouble with, they refer back to their notebooks as a reference. Same for my literacy notebook (reading, writing, and phonics). That's the quick answer, but I'll refer more to your question in my last few posts of this series :)

  2. I tried IN for the first time with math this year. Like you, we have Everyday Math and I just can't fit everything in...might have to collect those notebooks and call it a day!

    1. Yeah, math is hard when you have the math journal. I've used the IN a couple of ways in math: I've used it as a review/recap for some skills (money, time, place value). We completed the page after I taught the lessons from the book. I've also used it to replace whole units. I really hate the 2nd grade geometry unit, so we just used the math journal for the Math Boxes during that unit and we used our notebooks to learn about geometry concepts. I have that unit in my store if you're interested :)

  3. I just off strong with wanting to do the notebooks consistently, and the kids love them, but then I lose steam...I need/want to stay motivated. Maybe I need a definite plan for notebook entries?

    1. I think a large part of my success with INs was not trying to use them in all subjects. It's just too overwhelming when you're trying to learn how to implement them and your best ways to plan. When I first started, I chose to use INs in science because I only teach 4 science units in the year. I had plenty of time to plan out everything I needed for each unit. Once I had my process down, planning was faster and more automatic for me. Make sure you follow this series, because I'm going to talk all about how I plan for teaching with INs :)


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