Foldable graphic organizers are the heart of interactive math notebooks. They are a great tool to have students organize new information and keep it accessible for future reference. But once the lesson is completed and the notes are neatly placed into the notebook, what happens next?
Here are 5 (other) ways to use foldables in your math classroom:
#1 Use them as a “real” reference
For years I watched students diligently take their notes, and then promptly never look at them again. Even with the occasional reminder that they could use their notes, most students never went back to them.
Now my students use their notes so much more than ever before. In my classroom, students can always use their notes, except for when taking the assessment. I teach students that their notebook is like the training wheels for a bike- they are there to support them and be used as much as students need them as they work towards independence. I model for students how they can use their notes when completing tasks in the classroom, and make sure to direct them back to their notes.
Since using foldable notes, I also see students much more willing to go back to their notebooks. It’s like they feel more ownership over their notes having actually built and assembled them.
#2 Formative assessment
Recently, I’ve been using an inquiry based discovery lab to start a new unit of study, rather than leading off with giving notes. So, by the time we are taking notes, students have some background with the topic. For those students who really get it, they can usually complete the foldable notes with minimal prompting- which serves as a great formative assessment for me.
For those students who need another round of explanation, this also serves to show what they know and what they need to see again. By changing the order of instruction, by the time we complete the foldable notes, it really does serve as a formative assessment to show what students know and what they don’t.
#3 Exit tickets
Another great way to use foldable notes as a formative assessment is to use it as an exit ticket. Simply give students a blank version (or one with some information given and some to be completed, cloze style) and have them complete it without referring to their notes to see how well they own the key ideas of a topic. Because it mirrors the physical layout of the notes, students’ memory of the “picture” of the topic will be reinforced as well as the information itself, helping them retain and retrieve this information in the future.
#4 Cyclical review
As I’m planning out our test prep for end of the year assessments, I’ve decided to print out some blank versions of foldable graphic organizers. Students will be asked to recreate as much as they can without referring to their notes. Then, as a form of self-check, they’ll be able to refer to their notes to check their own accuracy and fill in any gaps. I think this will be a great addition to our other review activities.
#5 A twist on flashcards
Teach students to use their own notebook and foldables to study independently. Students can use their foldables in place of flashcards to practice skills and increase fluency. For example, check out this foldable for square roots and cube roots.
The layout of foldable make them a perfect study companion for students. But, they may not come up with that idea on their own. Take a few minutes a day or two before the test to model and do some guided study/practice. Then, with periodic reminders and encouragement, students can find yet another way to use their interactive math notebook.
I hope that this list sparked some ideas on how you can get even more value out of the foldable graphic organizers in your classroom.
Are you looking for more tips & tricks on implementing interactive notebooks and foldables in your classroom. You’ll want to check out this FREE mini-course on how to get the most out of interactive notebooks. It’s a 5 part series delivered right to your inbox. By the end, you’ll have your own customized plan for either starting, or stepping up, interactive notebooks in your class.
Any other great ways you use foldables with your students? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section. Thanks for reading & happy teaching!
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