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Maintaining Meaningful Notebooks with The Science Penguin

Hello!   I’m Ari from The Science Penguin.  Big thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to do a guest post today on interactive notebooks.

I started using science notebooks my first year teaching.  It was a bit of a mess, but I’ve developed some tips and tricks since then.  Starting off the year with notebooks is usually pretty smooth, but maintaining them throughout the year can be accomplished easily with a few tricks.

I’m going to share 5 ways to help your students maintain meaningful notebooks.

Tip 1: Chances are pretty good you will get at least one new student.  I’ve gotten anywhere between 1 and 7 new students throughout the year in my homeroom.  Trying to catch them up with notebook expectations can be difficult if you don’t have the supplies ready.  Depending on the student population trends at my school, I make extra notebooks before school starts or that first week for any new students.

Tip 2: Before starting a unit, I like to think about what entries I want students to complete. What questions should they be able to answer?  What labs or activities will they record in their notebooks?  What sort of fold-ups will we do for notetaking?  Answering these questions usually lead to a variety of meaningful notebooking activities.

Tip 3: I don’t know about you, but I like to use a lot of little bits and pieces when notebooking.  If something doesn’t get completed, paper can be stored in an envelope attached to the notebook.  You can use a small manila envelope or even just make one out of paper.

Tip 4: I will have 3 classes of science next year and want to make sure their notebooks stay in shape and are always available.  Instead of storing each class’s notebooks in one container, each of the 5 groups in each class have their own container.  That means having 15 containers, but they are easy to access and clean up.  I am using the containers shown below from Really Good Stuff for the first time next year.

Containers from Really Good Stuff

Tip 5: Keep a notebook along with the students.  If you teach multiple classes, you may only be able to really maintain one notebook.  You can model filling out the Table of Contents each time and keeping pages organized.

If you’re using Interactive Science Notebooks, stop by my blog to see more about how I use them.

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