Personalized Interactive Notebooks

This post was sponsored by Five Star® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

As much as I love our 1:1 Chromebook situation and moving more of my projects and assignments online, I still require my students to keep a notebook for my class. I want my students to be bilingual in the sense that they can navigate through online documents and responses, but they can also grab a notebook and a pen at any time and make meaning of content. Different students process information differently, so I believe they need choice when it comes to how they organize and lay out their notes and questions.

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I enlisted the talents of four of my amazing students to test out four different Five Star® Interactive Notebooks and see how each style helped them keep their information and tools organized.

Hailie chose this Five Star® Customizable Interactive Notebook (College Ruled). Her favorite feature was the customizable cover. She can slip in a cover page for any subject, and then switch it out at any time. The cover is super durable and will protect any other papers that she might slip in there if she is running late at the end of class.

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She utilized the margins on the right hand side for chapter titles so that she could easily find the sections she needed to study or refer to. She loves adding her own banners for subheadings, and there is plenty of uncluttered space for her to lay out vocabulary words and main ideas under each banner.

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Jessie chose the Five Star® Customizable Interactive Composition Book (College Ruled) for her English notebook. She also loved the customizable cover, and she trimmed hers down so that it would fit perfectly. The smooth edge never gets caught on anything in her backpack, and the inside pages open to a more natural two-page layout.

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She created a contrasting layout for a piece of informational text about the leadership styles of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln. She used the margins to note the lines and page numbers where she found textual evidence about each figure. She delineated her own commentary by setting it off with highlighted boxes so that she could easily translate these notes into an essay the next day. And does she not just have the most beautiful handwriting you’ve ever seen?

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Rachel preferred the Five Star® College Ruled Interactive Notebook because she could store so much in the first section. There is a full-size pocket to store handouts, as well has a half-page pocket where she can keep stickers, page flags, or sticky notes.

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All of these Five Star® Notebooks also have a handy reinforced Table of Contents section at the beginning. I used to always print a Table of Contents for my students and have them fill it in as we went through the year, but this one is much more durable, and there’s no extra work for me!

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Rachel went through the same text about Davis and Lincoln and kept track of important quotes as she read. She added her own commentary underneath the quotes, and then jotted down connections that came to her in the margin where she kept a “notes” section.

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Another cool feature at the back of these notebooks is the extendable grid, for plotting points on a chart, creating schedules, mapping out a room, making a bullet journal layout, or anything else you can think of to use it for. It’s made of the same cardstock-like paper as the Table of Contents in the front.

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Nadia’s notebook had the same green cover as Rachel’s but she loved all of the clear pockets inside this Five Star® Wide Ruled Interactive Notebook. It has two small pockets at the top to hold note-taking supplies, and a larger envelope below for bigger, flat items. She can see all of her supplies laid out right away, and they never get lost in the black hole of backpack pockets.

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Nadia thinks best when she has a lot of white space in her notes, so created this clean, sparse layout for a lesson on the euphemisms in Farewell to Manzanar. She added her own doodles to remind her about the primary source documents we looked at in class.

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All four girls are excellent students, and while they do great work on our online platforms, they enjoy working with pen and paper to process new information. Some of their best connections and epiphanies have come from seeing their notes laid out on the page in a way that they understand. Plus they all enjoy the process of hand writing, and they like looking back at their written notes much better than notes on an online document.

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These are an awesome back to school staple item to add to your list for middle or high school classes. Which one is your favorite?

 

 

free school supplies from reddit

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At the beginning of the school year, a friend of mine sent me a link to a Reddit project that matches teachers with people who are willing to donate specific classroom supplies. (The link I used unfortunately doesn’t work any longer, but I am assuming that Reddit will run this project again next school year and advertise it on their site). I wrote a list of the specific things that I always run out of or wish I had in my classroom.

A super nice (anonymous) lady mailed me two boxes full of pencils, markers, card stock, glue, crayons, and colored paper. I was so touched, and so were my students! We used some of the supplies to make her a really cute thank you card, and now whenever I want to do a creative project, I have all the supplies I need. I am really into “foldables” and posters and “projects-in-a-day,” and now I have all the card stock, markers and glue I need so that my students can actually make quality projects. I asked for a bunch of mechanical pencils, so now I don’t stress out when someone doesn’t have a pencil; I just give them one and they don’t even need to waste time sharpening it. We love the box of fine tip markers, and my 6th graders use them often for “Rainbow Reading” (blog post on that activity to come!) and for editing each others’ papers.

We love Reddit and nice people who donate school supplies!

my corner

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This is my happy little corner behind my desk. I covered most of my bulletin board with this world map and added a US History bunting. I made the bunting last year out of scrapbook paper, and I really love the touch it adds to my board. I found this great antique map calendar at Paper Source (my weakness!) and it’s so fun to study to a new place from a different time each month. Even when I am planning lessons and entering grades, looking back at my board makes me feel calm and organized, and it reminds me that I love to teach kids about the world.