This semester, I’ve decided to approach my novel studies differently, whether it be for independent reading or for full class novels. I’ve always loved the idea of interactive notebooks. I love to cut and paste and doodle and create. And I know many of my students do too. But I also know the reality of my job — the clock keeps ticking and the calendar pages keep turning as we hurtle toward June with oh-so-many outcomes to cover. (I believe this stands in the way of real learning, but that’s another story for another time). This reality keeps me from fully embracing interactive notebooks, because we just don’t have time.
So, I have come up with an notebook that will allow my students to be reflective, analytical and independent. It is one that they can personalize and make their own. And it is also one that requires cutting and pasting for the initial set up only. After that, the students will have a place to record their responses, questions and analysis as they read. They can use the notebooks for reference during discussions, Socratic seminars and assessments.
The first step — and the most fun one — is to get the students to create their covers and tabs. I will print off a title page for them, or they can get creative and make their own. You can click on any of these images to see my instructions for making the covers, wrapping them in packing tape for added protection, and creating tabs to keep everything all organized.
The next step is adhering the pages inside the journal. I will give the students a list that explains the order I want the pages to appear, as well as where to affix their tabs. I will ask them to leave a few blank pages between each section, as some of them will need more space.
The pages inside the journal will provide them with a space to question, respond and analyze as they work their way through their texts. I don’t do chapter questions; instead, I want students to discover important ideas on their own–with guidance of course! The notebooks will be important tools for them to use as they learn how to make meaning of the texts they read.
Next week my pre-IB students will put together their first one for independent reading, and later they will make one for A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m excited about the possibilities. Most of all I’m excited about that high I mention, the one I get when I try something new.