Why you should consider Interactive Notebooks in the Middle Grades

Lindsayprofile-blueWhy hello there! It’s Lindsay here and I’m going to share with you a bazillion reasons (ok a few) why you should stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and get on the INB train.

inb stress

I’ll be honest. When I first started using Interactive Notebooks in my intervention classes, my students looked at me like I was nuts. They were big bad middle schoolers for goodness sake and I was asking them to cut, glue and color on a daily basis.

At first glance, interactive notebooks can appear:

  1. childish
  2. unnecessary
  3. time consuming
  4. unorganized
  5. messy

Before I actually used interactive notebooks, I was a big believer in all of those things. I didn’t understand the point of using them and didn’t know of any teachers in my building who had them in their rooms. It wasn’t until I started reading up on them online (years ago, before they were cool) that I realized their true potential.

Big Kid INBs To avoid making your students feel like they have a glorified coloring book, try making any of the cutsey stuff optional. If part of their grade includes color, they’re going to feel like they are in preschool. Encourage neatness of course, but don’t require “decorations.”

A Necessary Tool No matter which subject you teach, an interactive notebook can be an amazingly valuable tool.  Regular notes are boring and regular binders are disorganized. Notes, activities and examples are not kept together by skill in binders. They are grouped instead by the type of resource. Pages easily rip from binders and things get lost. INBs keep everything organized, under control and intact.

A Time Saving Tool If you don’t prepare yourself and your students, interactive notebooks CAN be time consuming. If you use them correctly and give your students some of the responsibility, you can actually save time by using them. To save time cutting, I try to make the majority of my INB resources have straight lines. This allows me to immediately cut multiple copies of something on a standard paper cutter as soon as they come off the copier. By eliminating the need for students to cut every single thing, you can save a ton of time. If your students are prepared for class each day with scissors, glue and colored pencils (or crayons if that’s your thing) no time will be wasted gathering or returning materials during class. Many INB resources are created as outlines, so students are not taking notes from scratch. Instead, they’re filling in key words, completing activities and highlighting important things.

Amazing Organization As I mentioned before, INBs are insanely organized. I use a table of contents for each and every unit, not just one for the entire notebook. This helps kids narrow down what they’re looking for and find it easily. I also make my contents sheets have tabs so students can easily see what unit they’re looking for.

inb tabs

inb contents


Not as Messy As You Think Yes, glue can get messy if not usedinb no mess properly. Yes, you will have that student who will think it’s cute to use as much glue as possible. That same student will quickly learn how difficult it is to write on a page that’s soggy and lumpy. Glue bottles are better than glue sticks because they hold forever and ever. Glue sticks just don’t hold that well. I honestly prefer two sided tape because there is zero mess, but for many that’s just not practical because of the cost. If you set clear expectations from the beginning when it comes to the ways to glue properly (small dots around the perimeter of the pages) and dispose of scraps, the mess doesn’t have to exist. To handle scraps, I purchased a few super cheap plastic trash cans (bathroom sized) from the store and set them near the student desks. Most students didn’t even have to get out of their seat to be able to dispose of their scraps.

Stay tuned for another INB post in which we all share why we feel like INBs are a valuable resource specific to our content area!


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