Love Interactive Notebooks!

5 reasons to love interactive notebooks, they get students involved, they are a year-long record of student work, students can work on then independently, they get students to show their work and best of all, they're fun!

1. Get students active!  Like the title says, these notebooks are “interactive”,  That means students are more involved instead of sitting back and being a passive learner.

2. Year-long record.  Notebooks are the perfect way to keep a record of a student’s work from the entire year.  The notebook is not only a place to paste in pockets, foldables, etc. But it’s also a place to keep notes, reflections, questions, and journal entries.

3. Independent Work.  Once students have been taught how to use an element for the notebook they can use it again and again on future assignments.  By the second half of the year students have probably been taught how to use lots of the elements and can now choose an element on their own to use for an assignment.  You can keep several of the more versatile elements in a folder so they can get the one they want for a reading assignment.,

4. Show your thinking!  We are constantly asking students to show the evidence for their answer or response.  Interactive notebooks are designed to do just that.  Notebooks are not the place for a one word answer!  They encourage and guide students to expand and show evidence for their responses.

5.They’re fun!  I have yet to see a student who doesn't like to work in their interactive notebook.  I know there is a place for paper/pencil tests, but interactive notebooks are inherently engaging and students enjoy working on the elements they place in their notebooks.

      Click on this image to download a free sample of my Fourth Grade Interactive notebook!

 Fourth Grade Interactive Notebook Sample

Here’s a peek at a few of the pages.
Interactive notebook page to introduce the theme of a book or story.

Teach students about point of view with this interactive notebook page.

Help your student about visual information with this interactive notebook page.

Interactive notebook page for teaching main idea and key details.

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Multi-Tasking Task Cards

Get more from your task cards.  Learn how to use one set of task cards for math, reading, language, writing and other fun activities.

“Multi-Tasking” Task Cards
Most sets of task cards are created for one task.  Reading task cards have students reading a paragraph or two to find the theme, main idea or make an inference, etc.  Math task cards ask students to solve problems, choose a measurement or manipulate a number, etc.   But it’s time to make your task cards work harder! Here are a few ways to get more use from your task cards.

Student Line Up:  Make your students think a little before they line up to head home, or walk to lunch. Take a set of your task cards and give one to each student.  Ask them to find the answer and write it on their white board or small slip of paper.  You have the answers, so say one answer at a time.  The student with the answer holds up his/her card and shows you their work.  If they’re correct they get to line up.  If no one has the answer tell them to check again because you know someone has that card.  This is easy to differentiate for students because you are in charge of handing out the cards.  You can make sure everyone gets a card they can read or solve.

Write it Wrong!:  Use a set of task cards with a short paragraph.  Ask students to rewrite the paragraph, leaving out the capitals and punctuation marks.  Then students can trade papers and correct the paragraph they receive.  Once paragraphs are corrected they can be returned to the original person to check.  Since this involves quite a bit of writing you might want to do this over two days.  If you choose to do this on different days make sure students write the task card number on their paper, along with their name.

Mix it up:  Once again use a set of cards with a short paragraph.  This time have the students write the sentences from the paragraph in a different order.  After they trade papers, see how another student would order the sentences to put them back into a paragraph.

Grouping:  Need your kids divided into 4 groups?  Use a set of task cards that have multiple choice questions, like 1, 2, 3, 4 or A, B, C,F, D to do the dividing.  Make sure you know how many As, Bs, Cs and Ds cards you hand out because that will be how students put themselves into groups.  After students answer the question on their card, all the As meet in one spot, the Bs meet in another, etc.  Now you have your class divided into 4 groups for your next activity.

Number Sense:  This would work well with any task cards that have a number as the answer. After students find the answer to their card ask them all to line up from least to greatest, or greatest to least.  Ask students with a number between 50 and 75 to stand up.  Have students multiply their number by 5.  Or they can find a partner and then find the sum and the difference of the answers. Lots of possibilities that can match to your current math lessons.  Call two students to the front of the class to compare the numbers.  Example:  75 is greater than 43.  

Write On:  This activity will work with any task cards that has sentences or paragraphs.  It would even work with cards that have math word problems.  Give each student one task card.  Tell them this is the springboard for their next writing assignment.  They can use one sentence from the card to begin their story.  Or, they can write the paragraph from the card and then continue the story from there.  Perhaps they’ll pull the characters and setting and use them for their story.  What ever they choose from the card, their own stories should be very interesting

My new set of task cards has the multiple tasks built right in.  The Order Up Sentence Task Cards have sets of 4 cards.  Each card in the set has a sentence with grammar, spelling, punctuation and/or capitalization errors.  Not only do the students have to correct the mistakes they have to arrange the sentence in order and then write them in paragraph form.  Finally they add their own sentences to complete the little story. Click on this picture to see the task cards in my TPT store.

 Sentence Task Cards Sample--Crockett's Classroom

You can download a free sample and give them a try with your class. Click on the picture below for your sample.

Order Up task cards. Students sequence the cards, edit, and then write them into a paragraph.

How have you gotten multiple uses out of one set of task cards?


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Student Reflections, helping students think about their learning

Most teachers agree that having students reflect upon their learning is important.  But how do you incorporate this valuable reflection time into an already busy day.  I've gathered a few ideas of how you can give your students time for meaningful self-reflections and not take up too much of your instruction time.

Hand Signals
I've found hand signals the quickest and easiest way to give student time for a quick reflect on their learning. 

4 fingers mean . . .  I know everything that was taught so well I can teach it to others.

3 fingers mean . . . I know and can do everything that was taught without mistakes.

2 fingers mean . . . I can do most of the things that were taught but need help with the harder parts.

1 finger means . . .I don’t know what was taught and can’t do any of it.

Number Scale
If you'd like to keep the reflection a little more private you can have a reflection strip on each desk.  Students can point to their number.  You can see their reflection pretty quickly as you walk around the room.

Students need to reflect on their own learning.  This scale is a great way to get them thinking about their level of understanding.

This number scale is available for free in my TPT store.  Click here to download it to use in your classroom.

Learning Scale freebie---Crockett's Classroom
Stop Light Colors
Another simple self assessment that gets students thinking about their learning are stop light cards.  Each student can have a set of cards, one red, one yellow and one green.  Through out the lesson a teacher can ask a question about student understanding and the students can display the appropriate card.
Green: I got it!   Yellow:  I almost have it.   Red:  I don’t understand
You can use 3 Stoplight Cards (green, yellow and red) held together with a book ring.  Students flip to the color to show their understanding of a skill or concept and hold it up for the teacher to see.
Simple idea to get students to think about their learning.  Red-I don't get it. Yellow-I'm almost there, Green- I got this!

Or you can print and use these Stoplight Desk Tents.  Simply print cut, fold, and tape.  Now you have something to set on each desk.  Students turn it to show what they think of the skill or objective. (Click on the picture to download this free printable.)

**June 2020    I updated these desk tents.  Now you have a choice between the full color or the ink-saving style.  I also included two editable slides so you can change the colors or the text to match your need.  The new file is a PowerPoint, so make sure you have that program.  
(If you prefer a noneditable PDF version, email me at debbie@crockettsclassroom and I'll add a link to this post.)

Written Reflections

While not as quick as the first few ideas mentioned in this blog post, written reflections are also a valuable way for students to spend thinking about their learning.  You can have them write in their reading, writing or math journal.  Or write a reflection at the end of the week, looking back at the entire week of learning.  

While researching for ideas on written reflections I came across an excellent website, Copy/Paste, by Peter Pappas.  He's come up with reflections levels based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Thinking Skills.  I love the way these reflections make students go deeper and deeper about their learning!  You can post these questions and have students answer each question at the end of a lesson.  Since this reflection would take longer I wouldn't have students do this type of reflection more than once a week.

A Taxonomy of Reflection.


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