One of the things I like to do during the summer break is spend some time flipping through old interactive notebooks and looking at what worked well this year, and what I want to try for next year. While thinking about how things went this year with interactive notebooks (INBs as we call them in my class), I thought about three organizational strategies, or hacks, that really helped this year run more smoothly. So in this post I want to share those with you.
Hack #1 Supply baskets
If you’re providing students with a class set of INB materials (i.e. scissors, glue sticks, etc.) you’ll want an easy way to pass out and organize these materials. I have a supply basket for each row of desks in my room. I got baskets at the Dollar Store, labeled them for each row, and labeled a place on a bookshelf for each of them to go. Then, when setting up supplies for the day, I quickly stock each basket and have the first student from each row pick it up and pass supplies to the rest of the row. Then, at the end of the lesson, students return supplies to their row’s basket and pass the basket to the front. I can quickly eyeball the baskets and make sure all supplies are returned, and then the basket is ready for the next class.
If you have students sitting in pods then it’s simple to create a supply basket for each group. Using baskets to pass out supplies allows students to know just where everything goes and helps you keep track of supplies. Plus, it’s easy to make sure that they have access to just the supplies that they’ll need on any given day.
My goal for next year- designate supply managers to take on that responsibility to make sure that supply baskets are fully stocked. And it will be their job to keep stray papers or other junk out of the basket. I think that’s going to make this work even better!
Hack #2 What about the trash?
Cutting papers down to size can lead to a lot of small pieces of paper floating across the room. Plus, students who feel the need to all get up and wander over to the trash can. Here’s two ways to minimize the mess:
- Reduce paper waste. Choose foldables that don’t have a ton of paper left over. When you use a half page graphic organizer, for example, it requires only one cut down the middle and has no paper scraps left behind. Or, challenge students to cut the foldable out with the fewest number of pieces left over.
- Use additional small trash cans. I have small trash cans from the Dollar Store. They sit at the end of each row exclusively for the leftover paper when the class is working on INBs. This works whether you have desks in pods or rows. Just consider having a small place for paper waste to go for each grouping of desks. Then, it becomes much easier to remind students to stay focused on their work, not on throwing away their paper in the trash can across the room.
Hack #3 Glue Sponges
Have you ever had students holler out mid-lesson, “This glue stick’s empty!” Or maybe you’ve heard the delightful chorus of, “I don’t have a glue stick!” And sometimes students glue things in, but after a while it just doesn’t stay attached because the glue stick didn’t last as long as you’d like. It’s one of those parts of using interactive notebooks that has really gotten under my skin. But I didn’t think there was anything to do about it.
Then, I was cruising Pinterest and I saw this idea of making glue sponges from Not So Wimpy Teacher. Intrigued, and a bit skeptical, I tried it out.
It was awesome! After a day of letting the glue sock in I had a great, low-mess solution for gluing things into the interactive notebook. I was pretty pumped, and started scheming on how to get these set up for my whole class.
Then, I was asked to do a 3 hour training for our whole school staff on ways to use INBs. I brought some of my glue sponges along and those teachers who have used INBs the most started freaking out! They used it themselves during the training and gushed over how well things were sticking. They marveled that the paper didn’t get curled up like it would with glue bottles. And of all the things that we talked about during the training, the glue sponge was far and away the thing they were most excited about.
More INB Tips & Tricks
Want even more ideas for getting the most out of INBs in your classroom? Theresa and I put together a 5 day course all about implementing interactive notebooks. In it we share all our tips and tricks for planning for and using interactive notebooks in your classroom. This five-part FREE email course will walk you through implementing interactive notebooks from start to finish. It’s a great way to start things off, or to reflect on and improve how interactive notebooks are working for you in your classroom.
We can’t wait to see you there! Thanks for reading. Until next time,
Rachel & Theresa
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