Interactive Notebooks – Student Assignments Limited by Imagination Only

“Right is for Reflection”

This side of the notebook focuses on ways that students can process and be creative with the information that they learned on the left. The type of assignment is limited only by your imagination and the student’s creativity, yet they are based on the just learned content. Some teachers use the left side for these assignments, but I feel it makes more sense this way.

They can range from the simple – vocabulary activities, mind mapping. and illustrated outlines that focus more on organizing and illustrating facts . . .

dscn0985              concept-mapdscn0981

to acrostics and other poetry, posters, and sensory figures that require students to go beyond the facts into interpretation . . .

acrostic3    dscn0983   black-plague-victime-2

The right side assignment gives a natural way for a teacher to offer choice to students and to differentiate instruction. The left side is the base content that everyone must know, the right side is process and product work, and that can be whatever the student needs it to be. I usually allocated 15-30 minutes of class time depending on the complexity of the assignment.

One of the paperwork issues I have with differentiation is how to record it and be fair. This way, I label my gradebook with page numbers,  and so as long as everyone has a NB45, it really doesn’t matter to the book whether the students page 45 is an acrostic or a wanted poster or a mind map.

8 comments so far

  1. Ginger on

    This is where I get confused. How do the students decide how to process the information. Do you give them choices or do they have a “menu” to choose from? Do you “teach” or model every method that can be used for student work? That could take a lot of time. I teach 4th grade and I can’t see my students being able to do quality work without a focus. I really want to try this but I’m not sure how to move along with the studetn side. Thanks!!

  2. mrsgannon on

    Mine wouldn’t either, that’s why I don’t start off with choice. I start with a simple note-taking assignment – the Illustrated Outline. Once we have done this at least two times, I demonstrate the Concept Map. After they have done this twice, the next time I offer a choice.

    I like to do this with related pairs of assignments until they have started to get a feel for what I want (about two to three weeks depending on the class – sometimes the whole first unit).
    After that, it depends on the class. I have a handout with assignment instructions and some classes do well with that after the first unit. I will generally only model things I think are difficult such as a good sensory figure. Sometimes if my class just isn’t getting it, I limit choice to two and model both – but never past that first quarter, they’ve got the hang of it by then.

    I hope this helps!

  3. Melissa on

    I recently found (on another blog) a menu of assignments that have directions – I was thinking of using a menu like this and copying it for all students to keep in their binder for the year…then students can refer back at any point! I also plan to model at the beginning of the year and limit choices. Or if I am looking for a particular result, I will state that they have to select from a list of particular assignments.

    I love that you have all of your student examples electronically. Do you display them on a projector for students to see?


  4. mrsgannon on

    I’m glad you found it helpful. My assignment directions to print out for students is on here as well – you’re welcome to see if there are any you can use.

  5. mrsgannon on

    Sorry, I just saw your question. No, I don’t display a student sample. I find that it limits my students’ creativity – they take it as the “right” answer. I usually model the first time I introduce an assignment.

  6. Heather on

    I just found your site and am SO impressed. I’m teaching writing and social studies this year for 75 fifth graders and LOVE all of your ideas. Thank you for sharing…I cannot wait to try some of your awesome ideas!

  7. Annalisa on

    I work in a TAP (Teacher Advancement Program) school. We have to have a lesson, activity, and model in every lesson…everyday. I think IAN’s will be a great way to meet those requirements and keep all those activities in a place where parents and students can keep track of it all!

  8. mrsgannon on

    When I was departmentalized, I felt the notebooks provided a much needed structure for myself and my students. There are many ways you can use the notebooks to address various sections of the TAP rubric.

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