Monday, August 31, 2009

Week 2 Day 1- Spiral Student Notebooks

Today's best practice...Spiral bound Student notebooks.
Commandment: Thou shalt not use fabric bound notebooks, for they shall surly fall to pieces by the tenth or eleventh month"

A colleague of mine, an Academic Block teacher Karen Ward, showed me the Idea of Interactive Student Notebooks (ISN's) about 12 years ago. Thank you Mrs. Ward. 70 or 100 page notebooks are perfect for this, and in August you can often get them at the bulk price of 6 to 20 cents a piece. I sell them to the kids for either a dime, 15 cents or 25 cents* depending upon what I paid for them. Often a student has no money and I either give them credit or say, "sush..between you and me this is free for you this time).
*I make sure to pad the price a tad to cover my sales tax and the occasional notebook I give away or that is never paid for by the kid using credit. By the time I sell them my price is way cheaper than they can get them in the stores so I'm not profiteering.

Years of frustration ended with using this system of notes, academic openers, labs, homework and projects. Students rarely lose their spiral notebooks. I spend much of the 2nd or 3rd day of class setting up the notebooks.

Mrs. Ward would collect her students ISN's fairly often and grade them. Often shed have quizzes taken in them and score them in class. She only had 80 students, I have over 200. I don't collect them. I ensure students are using them my giving note book quizzes. A Physics teacher colleague, Paul Lake, has used them and his method of checking them would be to grade them while his students took their unit test. This year I will collect them and use a checklist and a simple rubric to monitor their upkeep of the ISN's.(My Academic Block Colleagues tell me my rubrics is not a true rubric...I tell them "Science Rubrics are different: they are simple and easy with no bullshyte". This usually ends with a tilted head, narrowed eyes, and a displeased noise)

Here is how I use them.
THE FRONT of the notebook is the Notes side. The inside cover had my PROPER PAPER FORMAT visual direction sheet taped or glued on. Next, on the first page, a table of contents that we update each time I add a new "set of notes".

Notes are a combination of Typical notes (often I copy notes and have students fill in the blanks), or homework instructions taped on to a page, project guidelines, and some small lab data tables.

Foldable notes are really easy to incorporate into these. We tape or glue stick a lot of papers into the note books, I like 1/2 or 3/8 inch width masking tape best. I also train students to be tape passer-outers.

THE BACK of the notebook is the Academic Openers ( I can them Starters) section. I have my students turn the notebook over to the back with the spiral on the left. The pages are upside down, but we can now open and use the notebook turning pages from right to left as normally done. My students take a while getting use to seeing the page upside down...they squeak and make other funny noises but get the hang of it soon (I LOVE THE NOISES 8TH GRADERS MAKE)
The first page of this section is another table of contents. Each day that we start with "starter questions" the table of contents is updated, questions written in, then answered.

This system has worked well and helps make the students more organized and less likely to lose material.

I make my own ISN as we go through the year. This way I always have a copy to model. My copy, or another student's ISN can be used to help student that was absent get caught up.

Well I hope this helps.

Love to Teach, and Teach with Passion

and remember...

It's not Magic, It's Science

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