Thursday, July 26, 2012

3 Big Things for Teachers to Know About the ISN

It is no secret that I love the Interactive Student Notebook.  The way you can use your ISN is endless.  I wanted to go through some ideas and strategies that you can use in class to help you become more successful.  Two of the items, I want you to really start to think about the process behind creating your own assignments.  The other is just a little organizational tidbit that any teacher using the ISN should do.  They are ideas that I came up with from my experiences and hopefully it can give you some ideas.


1)  Make your own ISN.  You will use this ISN more than you think.  It's a place where you can sketch out your thoughts and ideas.  Having your own is a great help as you learn how to change from using the typical notebook to the ISN.  As you become more comfortable with the book, you'll begin to see the activities you plan become more elaborate and allow for more higher order thinking activities.  For some reason, I find that helps to have the book in front of you in order to create the entries. 
    Tide Notes: I was able to place the notes underneath to make it fit.
    Tide Notes:  I sketched it out to make it all fit.  Took at little time, but it turned out great.  If I didn't have the book in front of me, I probably would not have come up with this idea.
2)  Your copy = a savior for when kids are absent.  This has been amazing!  I can hand over my book and they fill out the information they missed. 

I haven't really talked about the papers and how things are placed in the book as of yet, but in my pictures you can tell there is a lot of taping/gluing which means there are lots of papers.  When the kids are absent, it's so difficult to keep these papers in order unless you have a system. My co-teacher introduced me to this idea of having a file folder container.  I have a container that has 31 file folders in it, and the folders are labeled 1-31 to represent each day.  The kids can go over to the container, pick out the papers they need, and set up their book on their own.  I can continue on with my lesson without being asked a million and one questions.  It helps the kids and myself stay organized.  I got mine from Staples (I may have to shop somewhere else now because of the lack of love for the teachers...sigh), but I'm sure you can find them in any office supply store.  Totally worth it.
Something like this would work for keeping the papers organized

2a) I tried to come up with a class ISN that someone would fill out for me everyday, but it didn't pan out the way I wanted.  My co-teacher and I are working on ways to improve that.  It will be nice to have another book in the class as a reference or when more than one child is out at a time.  When I come up with a system, I'll let you know :)

3)  This is somewhat tied with number.  It's like the outcome of the planning!  This ISN becomes your textbook.  I don't have textbooks that can go home with my kids.  We're lucky enough to have about 15 textbooks per teacher and books online that all kids can access (if they have the internet at home).  We also have lab manuals which I absolutely despise and are nicely packet away in the back of my classroom ;)  You control the content that goes into your book, and not the textbook company.  Remember that purpose thing?  It comes into play here!  I may use some of the information from the textbooks, online, and other sources to create my book that meets my states standards.   It's fun!

This is a picture from a student's notebook.  The right is my side (parts of an atom notes) and the left is there side (the student's created a cartoon about the notes)

The kids love the idea about creating their own textbook.  It's nice because the ISN is really all they should need when it comes to any kind of assessment.  You have your important information you want to kids to know right inside your ISN.

These are just three simple and easy ideas for the teacher.  If there is one thing that you've noticed throughout is the idea of creating your own materials.  It's up to you and that might be a very daunting task for some.  Don't worry, I'll have some ideas in the future for you :)  Hopefully you're starting to see the benefits of using this book.  I mean we've all said it before, "If I created this textbook....".  Well, now here's your chance!


  1. I like the ideas of the ISN notebook. I would like to see more of the type of assignments that you have them do. I use a notebook in class for each student but it's more for summarizing what we did/they learned. I like that they have to create something. You can contact me off my webpage or using twitter @MrJFawson

    1. I started reading your blog last night and I love it! I'm moving towards PBL this year myself. I tried it at the end of last year and the kids enjoyed it. My goal this year is to make the ISN and PBL go hand and hand with each other. I got lost in the project a bit myself because it was a lot to take on at the end of the year. I feel like integrating the ISN piece with the projects more will only strengthen the kids work.

  2. I love this notebook idea! Thanks for sharing and for the wonderful, detailed post!I am a former middle school science teacher and counselor! I am with the little ones now, but still love the middle schoolers!

    Creative Lesson Cafe

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  4. Do you have a copy of the information you used for the tides entry already typed up that you could share with me? You know, work smarter, not harder? I would greatly appreciate it!

  5. Do you have the tides ISN page for sale or available for download?

  6. Do you have the tides ISN page for sale or available for download?

  7. I would like your tides info too...that was awesome! I love your idea, this will be my third year creating INB's (interactive note books)...I like ISN better! They are such a great study need for a study guide with this type of interactive learning.

  8. Do you share your notes for the tides? I would love to do this ISN with my students.

  9. DO you have the tides info on teachers pay teachers or where is that document available at?