What Really is an Interactive Notebook?

What Really is an Interactive Notebook? What do they entail? Research shows that when students interact and engage kinesthetically with what they are learning then their understanding will deepen and be built to a higher level of cognition.If you have been reading my blog for any time you know that I am passionate about the use of Interactive Notebooks as a part of learning in the classroom. Each time I am out and about for professional developments I work with teachers from all ranges of the spectrum of Interactive Notebooks. Some of them have used them for a few years and want to get better where as there are some who aren’t even aware of what an Interactive Notebook truly is. Today I want to take some time to review what an Interactive Notebook is and subsequently what they aren’t.

How do you know if what you are doing is Interactive? Your interactive notebook must have a two way flow of information including teacher input (notes) and student output (reflection/practice).



When we look at the words Interactive Notebook it breaks down to:

The “notebook” part of an Interactive Notebook is something that all of the teachers that I have worked with have down because we have all worked with different forms of notebooks over the course of time. The tricky part it seems is the “interactive” portion.

What does research say?

Research behind interactive notebooks shows that they are most beneficial when used as a learning tool developed by students for students. We as teachers guide the input that is being put into the notebooks so that students build a solid foundation and then students develop the output to demonstrate what they have learned.

How do we implement this?

As a teacher we must determine what our students would need to complete an input activity from us as a teacher. For the most part in my classroom this was a mini lesson of sorts where my students took notes whether it be within a flippable, cloze notes or other method.

Mean, Median, Mode and Range Flippable

Within this mini lesson not only did my students have a flippable to match the definition and key words for Mean, Median, Mode and Range to but we also completed a class graph in the center over the hours of sleep each student in the classroom had received the night before. Based on that data we then determined our mean, median, mode and range for an example to pull from. To continue, we also created examples of Real Life Mean, Median, Mode and Range. This was all part of the input activity that I guided my students through in class.

From this students must synthesize what they have learned and organize the information so that they can apply it to build connections on their own. This could vary from day to day and student to student. I have used everything from practice problems, journals, reflections, connections, mind maps, and applying real life to what they have learned.

What does all of this mean?

As teachers we must take time to make sure that we are using Interactive Notebooks appropriately. They are not just a manner to organize teacher notes just as they are not just a manner to organize glorified worksheets. Just because we use scissors, glue and color to put them together does not mean that they should be 100% student centered busy-work.

Students must be able to take ownership of what they are learning for them to be effective. We as a teacher must realize that and guide that in our instruction and modeling so students can see that when they build their own connections it will deepen their own personal learning.

Interactive Notebooks Starter's Pack

If you are interested in learning more about Interactive Notebooks in the classroom, check out my Starter Pack for all subjects! And come back next week where I will have some friends linking up with me about ways they use Interactive Notebooks effectively in their classroom for student success.

22 thoughts on “What Really is an Interactive Notebook?”

  1. For students to take true ownership of an Interactive Student Notebook, it must have 3 parts to it, not just 2. It must have an Preview on the top left (what do you already know?), an interactive piece on the right (teacher guides the students), and a Process (what do students know now?). This information was learned at a training on Interactive Student Notebooks. More information can be found on my blog.

    • I just went and dug for your post on your blog and while I see the benefits of having a preview in an interactive notebook that is not a necessity and that isn’t what makes a student take true ownership. I’m glad that there are other trainers out there teaching on Interactive Notebooks and I would suggest you take a moment to read the journal article that I linked to in this blog post as well.

      As stated in the journal, as well as reiterated on my blog, Interactive Notebooks are all about the Input from teachers and Output from students. With doing Interactive Notebooks in my classroom I did away with any bellringer type activity and that is when my students prepared their materials for the day (cutting, prepping the page, etc.) to use our time most effectively.

      As always, I tell teachers that Your Notebook May Vary and each teachers teaches in their own way just as our students learn in their own way. I appreciate you taking time to comment on my blog.

  2. Using an interactive notebook in the way you have explained (with 4mulaFun flippables throughout) has given my daughter so much ownership of her math skills. She now knows when she is stuck she needs to first go to her interactive notebook and check for that topic. She refers back to her flippables over and over.

  3. This is a great post, Jennifer! The beauty of INB’s is that they can be adapted for each group of students. I like that the activities are flexible, without so many set rules for putting the INB’s together. If there were a lot of rules, I think it would take away from the benefits of using them. I learned more about their use from YOUR fabulous webinar! I hope you’ll be making more! Thank you, thank you!!

  4. I am only at the start of my second year of working with interactive notebooks with my 6th grade math students. I am feeling more comfortable with portions this year, and continue to learn daily and look forward to learning more and adapting as I go through the following years. (I’m a building transition year, and standardized test scores generally follow the trend of building transitions, with a dip, but last year we saw nice growth on our transition year, and I feel a large part is due to the interactive notebooks, as it was the only difference 🙂 ).
    I always look forward to your posts and helpful foldables and information! I have had students and parents both say that they would be lost without their interactive notebooks! Having parents and their children both learning from the input items is wonderful! I always like to include a parent and child reflection or student teaching parent opportunity as an output occasionally 🙂 . It’s always fun to read those reflections. Thank you again!

    • Alyssa,

      Wow, what great strides that your students made! I think that this year it will be even better with a second year under their belt and truly taking even more ownership of their learning. I LOVE the idea of bringing the parents into it! I tried to make sure that the students could relate the information and teach it to their families and even pull in real-world experience from time to time.


  5. What do you have your kids write on the “left side” or “output” side? I am really struggling on how to use that to evaluate students intake of the information. All the sites I have visited and videos I have viewed don’t really explain that side, especially in reading. Your ideas?

  6. Thanks, Jennifer! This is a helpful overview. When teachers have questions about interactive notebooks, I’ll be sure to direct them right here.

  7. I teach Simultaneous Bilingual 2nd grade and in our district, our bilingual classes use Content Area Journals. I love your ideas (and overview) of INBs and am hoping I can use these same ideas you have in our Content Area Journals as they have the same goals. I don’t want to be giving them worksheets and “busy work” but instead, I want to give them a tool to guide them to create their own documents sharing their [old and new] knowledge.

  8. Thank you for this and all your videos!!! I am a new teacher heading into my 2nd year in 8th grade reading. I was looking into INBs when I found your page. You have been such a great help into what these are and how to set them up. I am hoping that I can really utilize this next year. Thank you again!!!!

  9. Hi! I´m a mexican teacher. Sorry for my english. Thank you for the post. I wil start to use interactive notebooks in my physyc class next semester. Thanks for this information.


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