Interactive Student Notebook: Beyond Social Studies

I’m fired up about the Interactive Student Notebook!

Last week, I had the pleasure of conducting an ISN training with an intelligent and enthusiastic group of teachers in East Texas. It was so energizing to hear their success stories! And today, I worked with a group of teachers in New Mexico who hadn’t heard of the name TCI but had heard of the Interactive Student Notebook through the grapevine.

Although originally created by TCI for use in Social Studies classrooms, the Interactive Student Notebook is a teaching strategy that has limitless potential. The beauty of the ISN is that every teacher’s version will be slightly different. In my hallway, 7 out of 8 teachers used the notebook with our students, but not a single one of us did it the exact same way! (Let’s save a discussion of the 9th teacher for another time…) But the end result is the same: students are more organized, more connected to their learning, and more passionate about the content.

But the ISN can be used for so much more than Social Studies. Here are some of the “non-Social Studies” uses for the notebook that educators at a recent ASCD conference shared with me.  I’d love to hear others you have!

ISN in Math & Science: I can’t tell you how many times SS teachers tell me that they’ve “enlightened” their colleagues in other subjects and that the whole school is now using the ISN. Check out this Wiki for some ideas: http://interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com/.

ISN Assignments to Structure Staff Development: A curriculum coordinator explained that she creates all of her staff development sessions so that they follow the Preview/Graphically Organized Notes/Processing structure. She reports the ISN helps teachers personalize the content from trainings so that they can more successfully implement best teaching strategies.

ISN as a Personal Development Portfolio: A principal explained that her teachers create an ISN for all the in-house trainings, external conferences, PLC team meetings, etc they attend during the year. Instead of drowning in loose notes about school procedures and teaching techniques, they have everything in one place.

I wish you all the best as you implement the ISN. Remember: tweak it to fit your personality, your teaching style, your content, and your students. And have fun!

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