The pages after the beginning setup is where the real magic happens. Each side of the notebook serves a purpose. The ISN has to have a purpose otherwise the book becomes meaningless to your students. I've seen this too many times where cutting and pasting is done to waste time or done because 'it's what you're supposed to do'. It's not. What you're supposed to do is have a meaningful book that will allow for students to explore learning on their means. Just putting lots of things on one page does not make it interactive - it makes it a disaster. The kids get frustrated and your purpose of using the book is lost.
The teachers that just do the ISN to waste time and look 'good' makes me beyond angry. I'm rather passionate about this tool. It really just makes my blood boil when people think they are 'doing the right thing' in their minds and just use it as a way not to teach. It happens more often than you think. You are the ones in the classroom that make the ISN meaningful to your students. Your students will pick up on the fact that your book has no true purpose if you don't use it in the right matter. That's where this whole perception of this 'baby work' comes into play. Of course it's baby work if that cutting and pasting and the use of a crayon here or there is done without a purpose. It's not baby work when the kids can turn to a perfect stranger to the classroom (such as observations) and explain the meaning and purpose behind an activity that they are doing. It's a disservice to the child if one's goal is to just waste time and just do something because 'everyone is doing it'.
The word purpose stands out because you want to make sure your book has a purpose to your students. Look at it as if it's a textbook. Textbooks should have meaning (I know, that's not the case all the time) What's nice about this book is that you get a side and the kids get a side. In my book, my side is the right side and the kids side is the left side. It's a little hard to get used to at first, but it's set up that way because of how the brain works. You can make yours and go with the opposite way if you're more comfortable, but just make sure you have a side and so to the kids.
Here's how it works:
On the left, you really want to see if the kids understand what you taught on the right. Some kids might have a difficult time with a topic and the completed activity might be very limited. That's ok - you as the teacher can go back and look and see what they might be missing or help scaffold the notes even more so to help them understand the topic or complete and activity. You can also use the left side as a place where kids can as questions about the topic. I do a fishbowl activity during the year with the kids and use a "KIQ" Chart - What I know, What I find Interesting, What Questions I may have about the topic. It's a great way to see what they are missing from the lesson. The options in this notebook ARE ENDLESS, but just remember, those options need to have a purpose.
I found the hardest thing to do for the the ISN is coming up with activities. The following website has been my bbf since the good old days of 2008. There are lots of links (in all content areas) and lots of ideas to start to think about how to use the ISN. I have a list of activities that I use and some that I've made up over time. I'll post those for you one day, but with my wedding coming up in 2.5 weeks (gulp!), time isn't on my side....buttt I don't want to leave any of you hanging so check out the website!
ISN Wikispace - go here, bookmark this, whatever! Take a look, it's helpful :)
Below are some examples from my students - again, I'm going to do my best the next few weeks to go through the step-by-step process of this, but seeing this for now gives you a bit of an idea what the ISN can look like.
|Left Side: Moon Phase homework - describing the positions of the Earth, Sun and Moon during Full and New Moons|
|Right Side: Moon Phase foldable that describe each phase of the moon|
Now the above is just a format that you should try to follow, but there are times where you may need both sides of the book for your information - that's ok. It happens from time to time. You do what you need to do and then just go back to the format. Remember, you want to keep the kids organized so if you need more space, it's fine.
I know I've just hit the tip of the iceberg with this post, but it's important that you know that you have so many options with this notebook. I want to describe I how use the ISN to you next and it's function it serves in my classroom. Hopefully after you read that, you will soon find the way the ISN will fit your purpose in your classroom.