Friday, September 5, 2014

Interactive Notebook and Challenge Based Learning #4 -(The Set Up)

     As I stated in my first post about Interactive Notebooks last year I mentioned that when I began the process of implementing them into our laboratory I was a bit overwhelmed. This is partly due to the fact that I am a global thinker and if I were completetly honest organization has never been my real strong suite. However, as we made our through our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) projects last year I saw the true value of the Interactive Notebooks were playing in that process. I had read some of the research on their effectiveness and heard testimonies. However, it wasn't until I began to see the effectiveness with my students that I became a true believer. With the limited implementation we did last year it was obvious that these interactive notebooks were aiding in guiding and promoting my students to own both their process and their thinking. It also became clear that for my students to continue to grow towards independence I was going to have to do some more work.

      In June, after the 2013-2014 dust settled a bit, my research on different ways teachers had set up interactive notebooks began. There is quite a bit out there; on Pintrest, blogs and You Tube. A lot of the information I found was very similar, which allowed me to then weed through items based on quality.  One of the best examples I found on setting up interactive notebooks was the following video.  It is clear, easy to follow, and I especially found the the split screen to be very effective. I truly hope Mr. Strohmeyer doesn't mind me highlighting his work here.

  For obvious reasons, as the 2014-15 school year began setting up our interactive notebooks was a top priority. We have methodically labeled the cover, wrote the rules on the inside flap, set up the table of contents and numbered all the pages. I would be lying if I did not admit that throughout the process there weren't some frustrations on all our parts when pages were numbered incorrectly and/or directions weren't followed exactly. However, that was accompanied with the knowledge that students throughout this year; will be more organized, have less lost work, and ultimately will spend more time on task due to these notebooks being set up properly. That to me is time well spent!

      This week students began their first research project and we did our best to set things up in our interactive notebooks for success. We first brainstormed on what skills they needed to complete a research project, we reviewed the project rubric, broke down seven pages with different graphic organizers to hold the information and then added those page numbers to the Table of Contents. During the first twenty minutes of our independent work time, I overheard a student say to another, "This is great now I know where to put my information so I can find it." Later that comment had me reflecting about the many times I had complained about students not keeping their work organized and/or feeling frustrated over work just being lost. Thoughts which lead me to a conclusion (although I hated to admit it) that I had indeed played a huge role in this issue. How could I have expect my students to exhibit what I had never modeled or taught them? A question I will need to keep on asking myself as we continue to move forward with interactive notebook. The reality is, we are all in the learning process here and to have a true community of learners I must continue to be the lead learner. With that said, I am just so thankful for those out there who continue to share the work they are doing with interactive notebooks, because this learner here is finding it all very helpful and enlightening.