Starting my ISN off right

I have a list of blog posts to write, most importantly my reflection of #TMC13, but it seems so hard to put that into words right now, so I will procrastinate with another blog post. There has been a lot of discussion about ISN’s (interactive student notebooks) recently, especially at the #INBjamboree at #TMC13.  At the start of summer, I put together an entire binder for my planning purposes that I am pretty excited about.  I also took the time to outline my opening pages because I after reflecting on last year’s ISN, I need to improve a few things.  I have shared this list via email with a few of you and thought it would be easier to share as a post so you can help me start my ISN in the most effective manner.

What do you like about my list? What would you change? Am I wasting too many pages? (My #1 fear!)

Geometry ISN
Here is the start of my planning for my Geometry ISN. These beginning pages could be used for any class, I titled it Geometry because that Is what I am teaching. I am not sure this is what I will do exactly yet, but I started writing down ideas.

I am using the Planning pages from here: I printed enough for the entire composition book ISN and 3-hole punched them for a binder.  I DID NOT plan this way last year, so I am hoping this will help me avoid the last minute searching for a foldable or creating (a bad) one.

Important note: I print most pages two per page so they fit nicely in the composition books with minimal cutting.

Current Outline (Links to documents & places where I gathered ideas are provided where available)

Students decorate cover with Numbers About Me at home over the first weekend or so. I didn’t do this last year, but I like the personalization part to help make the notebook theirs. Suggestion is to use packing tape to protect the decorated covers…not sure how this will happen if I choose to decorate covers.

Inside Front Cover – Grading Rubric for ISN (I wanted it more visible, last year put it inside back cover.)

Page 1 – Title Page – (I did email the artist and ask if she would do one for Geometry, haven’t heard back yet) My students last year liked to color…a lot…so I incorporated coloring pages where I could. They can choose to color or not, but most did especially after a test or quiz is when I would see many coloring.

2 – Author Page – Describe themselves in pictures with color (doing it this way allows the first use of the true left side/right side aspect of the ISN)

3 – Author Page – Describe themselves in words – My Directions for both Author’s pages

4 – Study Buddy Page – Using this example & modifying a bit. Also considering to put Clock partners on this page (Good explanation here). Even as groups change every 6 weeks, the Clock partners would be the same all year, provides trust, comfort & consistency.  Especially if the groups are rough one quarter, could use these partners more, rather than dealing with switching groups. To hide student phone numbers shared on this page, the clock page would be a flap over the study buddy information, just taped at the top.

5 – TOC – Planning to do booklet style to save pages

6 – Class Policies & Expectations – Trace your hand on the page. In each one of the fingers write one of the most important things you should know about this class. (Can color, decorate, etc. the hand & page)

7 – Class Policies & Expectations – My syllabus goes here (I plan to create a larger version of this foldable using two sheets of paper because I like the idea of having the tabs for the main ideas in the syllabus.

8 – ISN information – On the page below, give some predictions you have for your ISN this year. Draw pictures (& can have captions)

9 – ISN information – 2-sided page explaining ISN (they have never seen or used an ISN before)

10 – Key Parts of the ISN – Reflection of page 13, need to include a drawing piece (Key Parts files from @cheesemonkeysf)

11 – Key Parts of the ISN – foldable with most important rules (my students liked this one last year as one of their first foldables)  –  Can follow up with a ISN quiz

*12 – Multiple Intelligences – Graph information from survey / Or True Colors profile?

*13 – Multiple Intelligences – survey would be on this page / Or True Colors Profile? (Sorter and Learning Temperaments)

*14 – Learning Styles – On the page below draw 5 picture of ways that you can use your learning style to help you study

*15 – Learning Styles – 2-sided survey & page of learning style suggestions

16 – Unit 1 – Coloring page –

17 – Unit 1 – Standards/Skill List or “I Can” Statements (Vocab words just listed on bottom with page number reference to back of ISN?)

Pages 184-200 – Words Worth Knowing (WWK) – Basically a glossary of terms. – Using Frayer models from Sarah Hagan at Math = Love. I figured folded in half I can fit 7 frayer models per page, which is around 119 words.  Since I haven’t made my Geometry vocabulary list yet, I don’t know if that is the right amount of pages, but I thought I would start there until I finalize my vocabulary list. Anyone have one they want to share? 🙂

Inside back cover will be a formula/measurement reference sheet (like most books have & most composition books already have this as the inside of the back cover)

*Not sure I am sold on using any of these pages. I like the idea of the learning styles and how to use the learning styles to help study, but I don’t know if I will use these pages.

Random Ideas

I have these randomly written on a sheet of paper, so I thought it would be helpful to share.  I am literally copying them word for word, so it may be a little unorganized.

  • I want to include the 8 Math Practices, idea & foldable from here.
  • I also want to include Estimation180 as part of our warm-ups, each day? once a week? Not sure, but I love this handout and explanation.
  • Use QR codes (as3x10 labels?) to print and tape/put on ISN pages to link to internet resources (video/review lesson/practice/challenge) for the lesson.
  • Use 3×10 (or different size) label stickers for questions prompts on left side pages. Easy to make, distribute to students & no glue/tape necessary!
  • Test Day journal pages? – students grab and do as activity/HW after tests…gives them something to do and allows sharing and writing reflection in the ISN as well.  What would go on the opposite side page? I am in love with these FREE journal pages and I *think* they would be a fun writing addition to the ISN (& for when my students read their ISN in 20 years). 🙂 I only have 7 Unit Common Assessments, so it wouldn’t be too many pages….thoughts?
  • Collect & grade at end of each quarter? Or collect and quickly grade on test days? Big FAIL for me last year, only graded 1st quarter. Improvement is needed!
  • Use Color With a Purpose!!! – need to research more.  Ex. Use same color to highlight vocab all year.
  • Date stamp to check pages daily – makes grading easier – need self-inking date stamp. I have a stamp pad date stamp and stopped using it because it was messy.
  • Left hand side options, provide sheet with options, students can choose how to reflect, but can only use each format option twice a unit
  • Left hand side idea – pick 4 of the HW probs to write neatly & explain why chosen or explain how to do. (better as an entrance slip?)
  • At end of Quarter – 2 pages for reflection (student, parent, notebook plans/goals for next quarter & grading rubric)

Okay, there you go…my ideas for starting my ISN off right this year.  I asked before and will ask again, What do you like about my list? What would you change? Am I wasting too many pages? (My #1 fear!)

6 thoughts on “Starting my ISN off right

  1. Wow! You have some really good ideas (that I might have to steal)! I was also worried about having too many pages used up at the beginning, but I think they are necessary and will help the students begin to love their notebooks.

    I have created a vocabulary list for geometry and also have the fryer models, with definitions, already typed up for all of the words. I’d love to share, so email me and I can send them along to you.

  2. Holy smokes, this is a great repository of ideas! I’m in the same boat as you- thinking I want to be careful how many pages I use so that I don’t run out. I really, really want everything to fit in one book. I’m also wondering how much class time I should dedicate to things like learning styles. I didn’t do an ISN last year, so I’m kind of guessing at it. So far, I’ve decided to use the first 6 pages for TOC then start numbering: 1- syllabus (probably done as a booklet), 2- list of left-side assignments, 3 to 5- notebook check rubrics, 6- standards foldable. The outside cover will be numbers about me. The inside cover will be notebook guidelines. I counted 40 pages back from the end to start my vocabulary. I counted 127 words in 8th grade math and figured 4 per page (not sure how much smaller your Frayers are than mine) plus left a few extra pages for those words that might surprise me. The last two pages in the back are the old state-provided formula sheet. The inside back cover has a 6×9 manila envelope for work in progress.

    • I like the envelope in the back idea. I had seen this before and almost forgot about it! I’ll be doing this for the first time this year. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and resources.

  3. Color with a purpose was THE most important part of my INBs last year! It’s so easy to do with geometry. For example, with circles, when we introduced vocabulary, we would trace over the different terms in the same color that the definition was written/underlined/highlighted in. Although, here is something I did not think of before the year started: I ended up having a student who was color-blind!

    • Thanks for commenting!! Funny you ask about the rubric, I haven’t finalized mine yet. I keep going back and forth, but haven’t put it to paper yet. Once I do I will post it!! But there are a few out there. Check out and click on interactive notebooks for tons of resources!!

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