Hello, my name is Natalie and I use Interactive Notebooks (INB) to teach high school geometry.
I’m probably more surprised than anyone at how well they are working. I was afraid that the students would think they were too cutesy or juvenile for high school. I was sure that my 15 and 16 year old students (especially the boys) were going to moan and groan about doing “arts and crafts” in math class. Mostly, I hated the idea of wasting any class time whatsoever on what I perceived as potentially frivolous coloring, cutting, and gluing.
But, I’m happy to say that I am ready eat my words. There are so many things that I really love about INBs and only a few things that have proven to be a bit challenging. I love that students are more engaged in the note-taking process and that they are more invested in the material. I love that I can reference specific activities and pages of the book by saying things like, “it’s in the green flip book, remember?” I still don’t particularly love that it takes a few additional minutes to have students cut, staple, and glue things, but I think whatever minutes I might lose are made up in that students are actually taking notes and using them as they study. It’s amazing, really.
My little experiment of using Interactive Notebooks with high school students has been a huge success and I have a lot of people to thank. I was inspired to give the notebooks a go with my students this year after seeing some first rate examples of what other teachers are doing with INBs in high school. Sarah at Math=Love is my number one inspiration. Unfortunately, she doesn’t teach Geometry so I haven’t been able to use many of her specific lessons. BUT, I have gotten so many ideas from her about how to use INBs in my classes… seriously, I am forever grateful, Sarah!
I won’t lie- it’s been a lot of work to transition from the way I’ve taught for the past 12 years to a new method. But it has been incredibly worthwhile to approach the same content from a new perspective. It’s been fun to dream up new ways to present material and to really distill down what students need to put in their notebooks. So, if you are on the fence about trying something new, whether they be INBs or something else, I say go for it. I can’t promise that it will necessarily work out, but I bet you’ll learn something valuable in the process.