Save 10% today on your lessons using the code GIVEME10


Language Arts Interactive Notebooks Tips and Tricks

Find great tips, tools and resources for middle and high school interactive notebook ideas for the language arts classroom in this article from 2 Peas and a Dog. #languagearts #reading #writing #lessonplans #2peasandadog

Interactive notebooks rapidly took over classrooms a few years ago and became a staple in many classrooms. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter Chat recap we focus on how teachers use interactive notebooks in their classrooms as well as tips for teachers new to this type of notebook.  We also discussed great hands-on learning ideas for the ELA classroom.

Q1: Do you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? What positive impacts have you seen from using them?

A1: I use INB but not exclusively – they definitely create higher engagement among my Ss

A1: I don’t use interactive notebooks because we are on a paper diet at my school. I do use some interactive notebook lessons for a variety.

A1: I’ve observed 3 HS teachers at different schools. None use INBs. I want to use them. Any tips for teachers who are new to INBs?  

A1: Tips from other teachers about INBs.

A1: I also make my own version of INB type notes that blend Cornell notes (left brain) with Pix (right brain) I call them Pixanotes.

A1: In the classroom, I am in we mainly use Chromebooks, but on occasion, we will use the interactive whiteboard.  

A1: In the classroom, I am in we use a journal that students put a lot of class activities in. Including cutting & gluing things into the journal. I love that teachers are using this approach in the classroom.

A1: I have not used INB, but I would definitely like to try them out next year. I think INBs are a great resource to help students extend their learning.

Q2: What struggles or questions about interactive notebooks do you have?

A2: Sure! This is a video that shows how a teacher might use them with a free sample for similes and metaphors:

A2: I want to know how people have the photocopy and paper budget? How do you make the cutting out process quicker?

A2: For my INB I give each table a bucket with scissors and glue. Bucket for trash and scissors and glue for the table…eliminates the endless up and down to the trash

A2: I would suggest having structures in place for the glue & scissors and making one INB foldable that you can build on for the rest of the week.

A2: I use a function on my copy machine where I can copy two pages onto one sheet of paper.

A2: For the cutting process, I set up a timer and anyone who is done by the time the timer goes off gets a reward – could be class points or a small candy

A2: I have a set amount of time to work on the INB foldable because there’s so much I want to do WITH the information than just record it! 🙂

A2: My question is how do you structure/organize your INB? By topic like grammar, writing etc. or?

A2: When leveraging INBs, how much of the class period do you allow students to work in them? Do you house them in class or let students take them home?

A2: I let my Ss take theirs home, but they are advanced – I had my regular Ss keep them in the classroom.

Q3: What are other ways you make reading hands-on in your ELA classroom?

A3: I observed a teacher who used tangible pictures of scenes from a specific plot and had groups read the narrative and then arrange the pictures into the correct plot timeline.  

A3: Reading becomes hands-on when it’s part of a group activity like an escape room.

A3: I use stations to make reading more hands-on and it builds in movement. Also having students highlight and sticky note texts.

A3: I’ve started trying escape rooms with my kids too. They’re not as complex as some, but my students seem to enjoy them.

A3: How do you get students to buy into the whole stations thing? I’ve tried, but they don’t really seem to get into moving.

A3: I move my station baskets instead of kids…it’s less chaotic and the kids don’t have to move themselves around the room. It works great!

A3: I may try that. I had made task cards, and even tried posting QR codes around the room. But they either moved the cards to their seats or took pictures of the questions/cards and then sat back down.

A3: Maybe make it more a group activity where the task cards are taped to the desks and the Ss have to rotate?

A3: I’ve done the taping to the desk as well. And have the kids move from one card to another by the cards themselves aren’t movable.

A3: We have very detailed discussions when reading. The students really seem to enjoy having full class discussions over the novel we are reading.

Q4: What are other ways you make writing hands-on in your ELA classroom?

A4: Writing becomes hands-on when you use task cards to write an essay

A4: If I have a large class, how can I include hands-on writing without having everyone move? Any ideas?

A4: Can you pass the papers around the room but student sit or have one/two at a time write on chart paper then two more come up to write.

A4: I use peer editing to make writing hands on. Also, we use chart paper and markers in groups to get kids writing, but without the pressure.

A4: Writing also becomes hands-on when you write an essay, cut it up and have Ss work in groups to arrange the pieces in the correct order.

A4: We allow students to peer evaluate with one other student. As well as having one on one conferences with the teacher about what’s good & what needs some work to better the students writing.

Q5: How can you use technology to create hands-on learning opportunities for your students?

A5: There are also Hyperdocs and other digital activities that are out there using Google Slides. I’m really just getting started as our school goes 1:1 next year.

A5: Flipgrid, Padlet, G Suite etc. Lots of great tech-related apps or websites that give ELA class a different focus for the day.

A5: We sometimes use the interactive whiteboard, not often, but occasionally. Students also really enjoy working on their Google Chromebooks, which give students so many resources right at their fingertips.

A5: There are so many great programs like @edpuzzle @nearpod where the possibilities are exciting!

A5: I’ve used @edpuzzle and @goformative. I also just used Padlet for the first time with my freshmen.

Additional Resources

Close Reading and Text Annotation Ideas

Sticky Notes + Reading Material = Increased Comprehension

Independent Reading Journal

Related Posts


Leave a Comment

This FREE persuasive writing unit is

By using highly-engaging rants, your students won’t even realize you’ve channeled their daily rants and complaints into high-quality, writing!

FREE persuasive writing unit is