Student Perspectives on the Interactive Student Notebook

Becky Suthers is a TCI Trainer and fifth-grade teacher in a small town in Texas. She has three students in her class: Bo, Shy and Cierra. Here she shares what they think about the Interactive Student Notebook. 

Seems like this month is all about the Interactive Student Notebook (ISN) and there are many great ideas on TeacherGenius.  I thought this would be a good time to involve my 3 students and let them explain what they think of their ISNs and how they are different from other notebooks.  I have discussed the pros and cons with classes in the past but these 3 girls are pretty vocal and opinionated.  I asked them to write down what they like and don’t like as well as any benefits they see.  Here are their responses, and NO, I didn’t bribe them.  (The girls couldn’t think of anything bad, I PROMISE!)
Student One
“One difference from my ISN and notebooks I had in other classes is that you get graded on your handwriting and if it has color.  Is it neat? Do you have everything in it? You always know when Mrs. Suthers is going to grade your notebook. Then you will find your grade checklist in the envelope at the back of your ISN. 

I think one upside is you get to decorate it any way you want. I have a tiger on one of my notebooks.  My ISN is the best thing I have ever had in a classroom.  I have also drawn on the back of both notebooks already. When you decorate your notebooks you get to put your own personality on it.

In your ISN you take notes all the time.  Like how gas turns into a liquid or when baking soda and vinegar mix together it will start to fizz a lot and form a gas and we draw pictures!  Another thing we have in the ISN is the table of contents.  It will tell you what you wrote on that page and what day you did it.  My notebook is never boring. It is always so much fun to write on the pages and notes.”


Student Two
“I like how the ISN is graded because if you are behind, it might bump you back up. The vocabulary part of the ISN helps me learn new words and the pictures I draw help me understand the words better.  We decorated our notebooks which made them more colorful and fun! I am glad we have a Table of Contents in the ISN because if we have trouble finding something we can just look in the Table of Contents and find it.  In our Science ISN we also put our logs and notes from experiments we do. They help me when we have tests because sometimes Mrs. Suthers will let us use our notebooks and we can look at our notes to help with the answers.”

Student Three
“I like the ISN for several reasons: it has color, table of contents, more than just notes, and it helps me with tests.  We can study them easier and sometimes Mrs. Suthers lets us use the ISN on a test! I love how much color it has.  I like that it has part of my own personality in it.  It is easy to find what page I am looking for so it’s also good to number our pages so we can fill out the table of contents.  It tells me the date we did assignments or investigations so I know if I missed something.  I think it’s pretty awesome.

Section numbers on the reading notes help me know what part of the chapter I need to read to find the answers to questions I have.  I also like the reading notes because there is usually something fun involved with them.

The manila envelopes at the back of our ISNs are very helpful to keep track of things like our grades.  Mrs. Suthers decided to put the little envelopes in the back so we wouldn’t lose our grade sheets.

TCI had a great idea when they came up with the Interactive Student Notebook! I like them a lot!”

Their Teacher
Well girls, I like them a lot too! Every year they become personal study guides, records of assignments, and portfolios of growth for the year.  They keep everyone organized and the students refer back to them often. Teachers who use the TCI Approach know that it isn’t just about a notebook but about all of the strategies we use in our classroom with our students, and the ISN is an important part of those strategies.

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