Interactive Notebooks: Application Activities

In today's Interactive Notebook post, we're going to focus on how students will apply what they've learned to help the information stick.
Please see the previous post to learn about how we've taught students the information they need for the lesson. 

The left side of my notebook is the Thinking Side. I know it seems a little backwards that I organize my notebooks this way-- with the information on the right and the application on the left, but I love it! I like the physical-ness of stopping and going back to reflect on the previous page.
I use the Thinking Side of the notebook for two purposes: to activate prior knowledge before my teaching, and to apply/interact with the new information. 

Activating Prior Knowledge

Before we dive into the new information, I always "jump start" my lesson with a quick, 1-3 minute activity to fire up my students' brains. It can be as simple as watching a short video clip, talking with their neighbor about what we learned the day before or what they already know about the learning goal, or using our interactive notebooks to write or draw pictures.

Here are some ways I've used the Thinking Side of the IN to activate my students' prior knowledge.
  • math lesson about measurement: make a list of some units we use to measure.
  • social studies lesson about geography: draw a map of your bedroom (make sure you set a timer or else they're drawing for 5, 10, 15 minutes! I usually give 2-3 minutes to draw a quick sketch).
  • writing lesson about adjectives: draw a quick sketch of your favorite animal. Again, set a timer for 1 minute! When the timer goes off, write 3 words that describe your picture.
  • science lesson about the moon: write three words that describe the moon (this is my ultimate favorite! Students are so careful and thoughtful about choosing the best 3 words!)
Here are a few examples from my students' notebooks:
Please note that I don't always use my notebooks to access prior knowledge, but it is an option to vary my lessons.

Application of New Information

OK friends. This is IT! This is where the interactive magic happens!! Remember when I shared this?
How are you going to take the new information you presented and give it to your students to take ownership of their learning? Jane Pollock said something during one of her trainings that has always "stuck" with me (no pun intended): 
How are the kids going to cement their learning? 

It depends on what kind of information you've presented. Is the new information procedural (a step by step process) or declarative (facts)? 

Procedural Information

If the new information is procedural, the best way to apply the new information is practice, practice, practice! An example would be teaching 2-digit addition in math. As boring as it is, students would benefit the most by solving many 2-digit addition problems. But instead of giving your students worksheet after worksheet of problems, maybe they're solving them on their whiteboards, solving task cards, or playing a math game that focuses on the skill being taught.

Declarative Information

There are so, so, SO many things you can do if your new information is declarative-- it requires your students to just "know" it. You want your application activities to require deep thinking. Here are some thinking skills you could use and examples of how I've used them:
  • Compare/Contrast: Tell similarities and differences between maps and globes. Venn Diagrams work; I typically make my Venn Diagrams with rounded squares so the kids can easily write in them.
  • Classify: Sort animal names into animal categories (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, etc.)
  • Analyze Different Points of View/Perspectives: If you're learning about westward expansion, how did the explorers feel about taking over Native American land? How did the Native Americans feel when the explorers took over? Write about it in your notebook!
  • Create an Argument: When learning about Native American regions, which region do you think would be the best one to live in and why?
  • Make a Decision/Choice: We were learning about who studies space, and students wrote a few sentences telling if they'd rather be an astronaut or an astronomer and why.
  • Conduct an Experiment: When learning about electricity, we tested different materials to see if they were conductors or insulators. In our notebook, we made a T-Chart to sort our materials into the two categories.
  • Invent Something: After learning about magnets, students invented something that used magnets that would make their lives easier. I gave them 3 minutes to draw a quick sketch and 3-5 minutes to write about it.
  • Create: We were learning about pentagons, hexagons, and other many-sided shapes. Students created examples of each type of polygon on geoboards (actually we used the geoboard iPad app) and drew pictures of their creations in their notebooks.
We do a lot of writing and drawing on the thinking side of our notebooks, especially with vocabulary words. Here are several examples from my students' notebooks. Sorry for the photo overload! I had a hard time narrowing it down :)

A great way to help new information stick is to give it to kids in small doses. Example: We were learning about 3 confusing vocabulary words in our solar system unit: rotate, revolve, and orbit. Instead of throwing all three definitions at them at the same time, we did one word at a time. 
New Info: define "rotate"
Application: draw a picture of what it means
New Info: define "revolve"
Application: draw a picture of what it means
New Info: define "orbit"
Application: draw a picture of what it means

Now that we've learned about setting goals/objectives for our lessons, ways to present new information, and how to apply that information, we're ready to get started TEACHING! In my next post, I'll share how I set up my notebooks for learning. 

Missed a Post?

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

1 comment

  1. Love the idea of using post its as quick flip up tabs!!


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