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Q: Are notebooking and note-taking the same thing?
A: No way! Note-taking is about copying down important information. Notebooking is active. Students are writing, drawing, discussing, moving, making choices, drawing conclusions, and making connections.
Q: What goes in a science notebook?
A: I think a science notebook should include basically everything that you do in science class! When I'm planning a lesson, I center part of my plan around notebooking. I plan for three pieces in a lesson: input, communication, and output.
Q: What is input?
A: Input is what the YOU as the teacher want students to do. It can be inquiry, a mini-lab, PowerPoint with notes, fold-up, video and response, vocabulary activity, diagram, short passage, model, sort, graphic organizer, cut and paste, or question.
Q: How is communication included with a science notebook?
A: I give students an opportunity to "turn and talk" in response to a question and "turn and teach" to reteach another student what they just learned. This makes learning new information more than just copying notes. When students are doing activities, they work together in cooperative groups with a clear purpose and clear roles.
Q: What is output?
A: For every lesson, students do 10 minutes of output. Output is a reflection of learning. Students choose how to process or show their learning. I set the timer and walk around to conference with students and check for understanding. I explicitly teach output strategies at the beginning of the year. After that, students do an "I Learned" page after each lesson. They usually do a diagram, picture, and quick write. They can also do concept maps, personal connections, compare and contrast, comic, or acrostic, or respond to a prompt.
Q: What about left side/right side?
A: Many people use the right side for "input" and the left side for "output". I think that is way too confusing and it gets out of order very quickly for me. I just make sure that students have input and output and don't worry about what page it's on. There are bigger fish to fry.
Q: Are science notebooks research-based?
A: There's actually a lot of research on interactive notebooks. Of Marzano's Nine Categories of Instruction, notebooking encompasses seven of the best practices: setting objectives and providing feedback, reinforcing effort, cooperative learning, cues, questions, and advance organizers, nonlinguistic representations, summarizing and note taking, and identifying similarities and differences.
Q: How do you not spend the entire time cutting, gluing, and coloring?
A: There are several solutions to that. Check out the time management tips from Blair Turner. For me, getting notebooks ready is the FIRST part of the daily routine. Another thing I like to to maximize instructional time is "Repeat Only" while setting up notebooks. It's a call and response (students repeating) that gives a preview of the information they will learn today. Using funny voices helps.
Q: How do you grade them?
A: I would say I "provide feedback" often and "grade" rarely. Providing feedback is built into my schedule during that 10 minutes of output time. I use a rubric for grades on a scale from a 0-4. The rubric can be seen in this post.
Q: So, you seriously use notebooks every single day?
A: Yes. We record data during inquiry. We study before quizzes. We maintain records of learning during stations. We write, draw, and glue during direct instruction. We respond to informational text. We show what we learned each day. We use them every single day.
Q: How do you teach students your expectations?
A: Take a look at my First Week Science Plan to read about how I kick off the year with high expectations.
Q: Are notebooks good for independent work?
A: I've only taught in classrooms where many students need a lot of support, so our only independent time is during "output". The rest of the time requires a lot of energy from students working with their teams.
Q: What accommodations do you give to students with special needs?
A: Most years, I taught students who were in inclusion. I prepare my notebook ahead of time and students set up their notebook to look like mine when I project it on a screen. That gives me time to help students get their notebooks ready. I use pre-made templates so they know where to cut and I reuse a lot of the same templates so they get used to them. I don't do anything that is more of a cutting project than a science lesson. I sometimes pre-write information for them and copy it so it's easier to follow along. They often add their own visual representations. During "output", I check for understanding individually.
Q: I still have more questions. Where can I get more information, ideas, and resources?
A: I have many resources set up to help teachers.