7.19.2014

Interactive Notebook Examples and Templates

Interactive Notebook Activities for Secondary Students

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When I first heard someone mention interactive notebooks, I thought they meant "interactive" as in digital interaction between peers.

But I was completely wrong. "Interactive," as in "interactive notebook," refers to a student's collection of notes and graphics. They are personal tools for students to process ideas and concepts. The "interaction" part is the student interacting with the notes (rather than with other students). The more students interact with the information (have multiple senses connected with it), the more they can retain knowledge.

This makes sense to me because even though I love technology and would never want my students to be without access to their laptops, I still firmly believe writing with a pencil and reading a physical paper book helps my students remember and connect more deeply with the text.

With that in mind, I've been busy finding ways to incorporate more hands-on projects with my secondary students. (I've noticed that much of what is on the market for interactive notebooks is elementary-targeted.) I created these tabbed mini-books to use with both fiction and nonfiction text:

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

The books (Theme, Plot, Story Elements, Vocabulary, and Figurative Language Analysis) practice the following literature standards for grades 6-12: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6.  They also cover these reading informational standards and language standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5.

These are handy for using with individual stories and novels. Students can easily refer back to them later and compare two texts with one another. They are perfect for using as a source when writing a literary analysis paper or compare/contrast paper.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

The wording/language used is targeted toward secondary students.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
Plus, they are easy to put together: no glue is needed. Students can just assemble the pages and staple them. They can be affixed inside an existing notebook or not. 


Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
Teachers can add as many or as few pages to the books. (This can be helpful for the plot analysis events and the vocabulary analysis book, both shown above.)

If you want to purchase a BLANK TEMPLATE for the mini-books, you can find them here in my store (commercial use is allowed): EDITABLE MINI BOOK TEMPLATES for CUSTOMIZING PAGES

I also created a bundle of literature resources to cover all of the 6-12 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading. Even if your state does not use the CCSS, you can still utilize these resources. The skills practiced still involve essential reading and critical-thinking skills. I separated the foldables by standards, but they are not labeled on the templates themselves.
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

It includes over 90 different activities, which are scaffolded for introducing skills and differentiated for progressing into more advanced skills.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
One of the more difficult activities for my students over the past few years has been analyzing an event to see how it provokes a decision, propels the action, and reveals aspects of a character. I'm not sure why they struggle so much with this skill (reading standard 3), but breaking down single events and dialogue will help. The foldable above has students write each response on a clock face, then stack on top of each other and staple for a complete analysis of an event (below).
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Another higher-level skill practiced is comparing/contrasting two different works and analyze how the two authors approach the material both differently and similarly. (Reading standard 9)
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Secondary students may also appreciate graphics they can relate to.
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Interactive notebook: comparing the book to its movie on www.traceeorman.com

Interactive notebook activity: analyzing how themes build upon and interact with one another

Interactive notebook: text message activity on www.traceeorman.com

A secondary interactive bundle would not be complete without the Bard, right!?
Interactive notebook: rewriting Shakespeare on www.traceeorman.com

If you download the preview to my package, you'll get two free templates from the bundle

If you wish to purchase the BLANK TEMPLATES for these (and many more) interactive notebook activities, you can find them here (commercial use is allowed): INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK BLANK TEMPLATES

I'd love your feedback!
Comment below with your experience using interactive notebooks in your classroom. 
• What kind of notebooks do you use (spiral vs. composition)? 
• How often do you use them with your students? 
• Do you have any tips for teachers starting out?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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I teach high school English in Illinois; enjoy family time, baseball, collecting PEZ dispensers, and talking about anything related to my favorite books. They include The Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Chaos Walking trilogy, and anything written by Amy Tan.

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