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Tips for Beginning the School Year Right with Interactive Notebooks

Each year we start with the best of intentions as a teacher. We have our lists written and we start adding more as we begin to mark some of them off. You know that list that only had about 20 things on it on Monday but by now it is up to over 50 and some of them have been added AFTER you have completed them just so you can mark something off. Well I am sure that on that list for back to school is organizing your interactive notebooks. You want all of your supplies ready for the beginning of school, you want to review your own procedures and make sure it is all ready for things to go the right way… or at least that is the goal. Well, that is where I am here to help!

Are you starting a new year with interactive notebooks and already flustered about keeping it all together and keeping your sanity? Take a moment and read through these tips and know that YOU can do this!

  1. First of all, have a notebook for yourself! You as the teacher need to have a notebook for EACH subject/prep that you plan to use Interactive Notebooks in. I personally did not keep additional ones for each separate class that was the same prep but you can, this is completely up to you and your preferences. Prepare this notebook just as you would if you were a student and have it already set up to the beginning of the first unit BEFORE school starts! You will thank me for this later when you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off doing a million other things and the last thing you have time for is updating your table of contents and numbering notebook pages. Plan out your front matter and have it already copied and ready to go! Don’t wait until the day of or even the afternoon before because there is just too much during those first few weeks.
  2. Gather the supplies that you will be using in your classroom and have them organized in a manner that works for you. My students were in groups so Rubbermaid Shoe Bins (aff. link) worked for me. Yes, students will be bringing in supplies but having things ready to go on Day One is one more thing that you can do to prepare yourself ahead of time. Use what the students bring to fill in supplies as they run out. Read more about my classroom organization here.
  3. Plan out what your daily procedures for setting up and using Interactive Notebooks will be and POST it! For my class the students were greeted at the door, the gathered their materials at the table right next to the door, went to their seats an then prepped their notebook with title, page number, I Can statement and updated their Table of Contents to reflect the new lesson.
  4. Grab a calendar and plan out the first unit of instruction! Mark the beginning and end of a unit based on how many days you have to teach the unit. Factor in practice, projects, group work, assessments and any other things (Labor Day…) that might affect your instruction. Then go through and plan when you will be teaching each lesson for that unit. Sample Unit Plan by DayExample: Say you have 13 instructional days for your first unit that also includes the need for a unit assessment. Unit one has 7 standards that you must cover with your students. I typically went and marked my assessment day FIRST so that I could make sure it wasn’t on a Monday. I was however notorious for giving a quiz on a Monday to review previously taught material and help prep for the week of lessons. So after you have taken out the one day for assessment that brings you to 12 days. You know that you have a group project you want to do that will take two days and you have to have taught 4 of the standards before you can do the project. So you would go through and write down the four instructional days for standards, maybe a quiz day and then two days of the group work. That has now taken a total of 8 days so you are down to 5 left and three more standards. Perfect! 3 days to teach the standards, an interactive learning day (think work stations), and then a review day.
  5. Understand that things will happen and not everyday will be perfect. You may have the BEST lesson planned out for the day but all of a sudden you are pulled for a meeting in third period so they get behind because you cannot simply leave it for them to do without you. That is fine, you will catch up and things will be okay.

I do hope that these tips will help you start your year right. There is SO much information out there on the internet about starting your year off right and I wanted to take some time and share some of the things I learned with you. Flippables and Interactive Notebooks on PinterestIf you would like to read more about Interactive Notebooks, check out my Pinterest board for Flippables and Interactive Notebooks that is sure to have some awesome materials from myself and the many collaborators!

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