Interactive Notebooks: IN Wrap Up

Here we are, at the last post of my Interactive Notebook series.
Thanks for your patience in these last few months, as I've worked through, wrote, and rewrote these posts to be as clear and concise as I could be. I hope that you've had a few "aha" moments throughout this series, and that you've taken away some ideas to use your classroom.

Here are some take aways I'm hoping you've discovered:
Our ultimate goal is to teach students to be independent notetakers and thinkers. Will they be able to do this at the primary level? Most likely not. I'm talking middle school, high school, and even college level. Let's start them young!

The purpose of an interactive notebook is for students to interact with the CONTENT at a high level. Foldables and lift-the-flap tabs are one way you can interact with the new information being taught, but it's not the only way.

The notebook should be a reference tool (input) as well as a place for students to demonstrate their understanding of the new information (output). We are teaching our kids how to take notes from a variety of sources and then apply their learning in a way that makes sense for them to help the new information "stick." This is true engagement!!

You can make your own interactive notebook lessons! Even if you claim to not be tech savvy! You don't even need to create anything. Take a look at this mammals lesson my kiddos did the other day:
Our objective was to learn the characteristics of mammals. First they wrote a few mammals they knew on the Thinking Side. Then, with a partner, they read some pages in our textbook. Next, we worked together to make the list of characteristics on the Learning Side. Then, we watched a video about mammals. While the video was playing, they wrote down the important information from the video. And yes, everyone did this without my prompting. My kids were even asking me to stop the video so they could write down the important vocabulary words. They shared their notes with their neighbor and added more mammals to their "Mammals I Know" lists. Finally, students chose one mammal from the video and wrote at least two reasons why they knew that animal was a mammal.

Could I have created some cutesy foldable? Sure, absolutely! Would it have been necessary? HECK NO!

OK, so I want to try interactive notebooks in my classroom. Where do I start???
My suggestion is to start small. As enthusiastic as you might be about starting to use interactive notebooks, they can get super overwhelming if you don't have a plan. I want you to stick with it for the long haul! When I started using INs in 2012, I chose one subject: science. I picked science because I only have 5 units. I also alternate teaching science and social studies, so when I wasn't teaching science, I had time to plan and prepare for my next unit. If you're thinking math, maybe choose a unit or two to try out the notebooks. Don't pressure yourself into feeling like you need to be using notebooks all day, every day. Once you get the hang of it, then add more units/subjects. I went from just science that first year to using INs in 5 subjects the following year, and I wasn't overwhelmed in the least.

Do you have interactive notebook products in your TpT store?
Yes I do! :) You can find them here! I have a year's worth of phonics INs and a few math units. Currently, my science and social studies units are not for sale, as most of them were created with my teaching teammates during school hours. I have received a few requests for science/social studies units, and I so have them on my "to do" list. A few of you also showed interest in my phases of the moon wheel from a previous post... click HERE to grab it for free :)
Please know that I personally don't use every single component that's in each unit in my classroom. I want my students to write as much as possible, in order for them to have ownership of their notes/notebooks. However, as a TpT seller, I want my units to be "the complete, whole package," so people who've bought my units aren't guessing what my intentions were when I was creating each unit. My interactive notebook units are set up with the Learning Side and the Thinking Side that I've referred through during the entire series. You will NOT find a bazillion little foldables and lift-the-flap tabs in my units.

You've probably seen many other sellers with IN products in their stores. My suggestion is to decide what your learning objectives for your lessons/units are, and then see if those products are a good fit for you. I've noticed that many IN products for sale don't include the Input/Learning Side, so you might have to add that part yourself. Again, remember that the ultimate goal is for our students to learn HOW to take notes and how to interact the new information at a high level to make it their own.

READ: Not just cutesy cut-and-paste projects.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me! I hope that my interactive notebooks series has inspired you to give them a try in your classroom. Interactive notebooks are a powerful tool in increasing student engagement and accountability in your classroom. As you're working to develop your own lessons and units, if you have a questions, please get in touch with me! I'm happy to help you along the way as you discover the potential of these amazing tools!
Missed a Post?

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


  1. Angela,
    I have truly enjoyed reading all of your information about IN. Thank you for all the information you have shared with all of us! Thank YOU for making me think about them in such a different way than just cutting and pasting.

    My Second Sense

  2. Wow! Your series on IN was amazing! I started using IN last year, but there was NO interaction. We simply cut, glued and wrote notes. I can't wait to change things this year. Do you use IN every day for your lessons? Thanks again for sharing this fantastic information.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I *love* reading comments!! Make sure you are a no reply blogger or leave your email address so we can stay in touch!

Back to Top