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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart


The basic setup for an interactive notebook is: one all-inclusive spiral notebook, rigidly enforced day-to-day accountability, and an automatic classroom routine that is somehow very comforting to both students and teacher (shades of Harry Wong!)

The right-hand side of the notebook is for teacher input. The left side is for student response.

You'll need to have tape dispensers all around the room for taping notes into books. When the students walk in, they are to pick up the notes for that day, tape them in on the next right-hand page in their notebooks, and check for the occasional bell-ringer on the board. The bell-ringer goes on the left-hand side.

As you teach the lesson, the students attend to the right-hand page, adding what isn't in the notes, highlighting, underlining, illustrating. Color is encouraged, as it provides a hook to memory. The left-hand side is for student response to that lesson, so you'll need to have a task for them to complete on that page. If the notes are about pantomime, the left page may be an outline of the panto they plan to perform the next day.

When a grading rubric or quiz is returned to the student, it is taped onto the left page in a flapbook fashion so that left content is not permanently covered up. That way they have the notes and the quiz together, or the assignment and the evaluation together.

I kept my table of contents on one of those big stickie pads at the front of the room. Actually, I always had someone eager to write it for me, so I didn't even have to do that.


Each student has a spiral notebook (one that is large enough to glue or tape in 8.5 x

11 papers if you want them to keep handouts.)

When using the notebook the students open the notebooks so they have a left page and a right page to work from.

Right hand page is for notes from the teacher or the textbook. The left hand is for interpretation (actually transformation) of the information.

For example, this week we covered stage geography and audience etiquette. On the day of stage directions, the right hand page the students drew and labeled the nine area. On the left hand, they had to write a limerick related to the concept of areas of the stage (I gave them a handout that I found online giving the specifics on CLEAN limerick writing.) Followed by a 3 to 5 sentence paragraph explaining the connection between the limerick and the areas.

The other day, I had them create the cover of the book STAGE ETIQUETTE FOR


I think the kids are enjoying it, are being challenged by the left hand work . . .and talk about higher order thinking skills!


The interactive notebook is a "new" concept I tried last semester for the first time. I need to re-do it for next year, but I LOVE it. It makes academic accountability a snap. "Whatta ya dooo in that class?"

Here, let me show you - day by freaking day. Right-side pages are teacher-guided (notes, handouts, outlines); left-side pages are student assignments (QuickWrites, drawings, webs, bell-ringers). Quizzes are taped in atop the notes, making a great study resource. Five quizzes make a test opportunity, with questions condensed from the quizzes. The required written final is condensed from the tests. Lest you think I quiz and test them to death, the quizzes take ten minutes of class. We are on the 89-minute class block schedule.

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