Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning

The idea of Interactive Notebooks was a bit new to me this year and there has been a steep learning curve. Actually, this has been the piece I have been looking for awhile to round out our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) process. The CBL Framework gives us a great set of procedures. Then the Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels' book Inquiry Circles in Action:Comprehension and Collaboration helps guide the mini-lessons that need to be taught during our process. However, for us it just seemed like there was still a piece missing in our process and I now believe that interactive notebooks maybe our answer. These notebooks are set up to  provide a way for students to document, keep track of, and reflect throughout their process.

I will admit by the end of the first quarter this year I found myself a bit overwhelm by the implementation of Interactive Notebooks. There was just so much information out there that I was having trouble focusing on exactly how to go about getting started. At that point, I decided to focus on the book Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks by Kellie Marcarelli and then pull in other resources. I did this for several reasons:

1) The fact that The CBL Framework relates so closely to the scientific method. Some of my students spent time to compare and contrasting the two processes in this post Comparing and Contrasting CBL and The Scientific Method.

2) This book goes into the nuts and bolts of using interactive notebooks (hows and whys).

3) The fact the author based the procedures on the strategies described in the book Classroom Instruction that Works by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock and the procedures are research based. 

In the past, I thought and behaved as if it was my role to dictate what gets done when, but I have come to realize that way of teaching was hurting my students in the long run. My students were not being allowed to think for themselves or able to move to the next step in a CBL challenges (or really any activity) without me telling them what needed to be done. Truth is, if we want students to grow up to be independent problem solvers we are going to have to let go of the reigns some (even with procedures). With the Interactive Notebook, Aha Boards and task list my students are really gaining independence in these areas. As well as, improving the quality of their reflective thinking. This implementation is slowing down our CBL process, but I believe this is time well spent.

If you are interested in following along in our process you can find us here: 

Grade 3 - Tuesday

CBL Challenge: 
To encourage better cooperation at recess.  

Grade 4/5 - Thursday 

CBL Challenges:

The Thunder Katz: To work to improve morning snacks. 
Gummy Bears: To prevent and eliminate bullying on Oneco's Campus.  
Wolfpack: To promote students spending more time appreciating the nature on campus.

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