Monday, July 23, 2012

The ISN changed my life. Period.

Way back in the fall of 2008, my life changed as a teacher.   I was introduced to the Interactive Student Notebook, or the ISN, by a group of pretty amazing educators.  The day that I first learned about what it was and how it could be used in class, I fell in love.  It could possible be the love of my life - my teaching life that is ;)  Here's an example of my cover.

This is the front and back of my ISN from the 2011-2012 school year.  I try to have the kids come up with things that have to deal with "science".  We have a discussion in the beginning of the year and they brainstorm ideas.  I needed to fill in some space this year, so that's where the quotes/words came from :)
If you don't know what it is and you walked by my classroom, you'd probably wonder what is she doing in there with those 8th graders.  It looks like "baby work". That statement has been said to me and about my teaching before by people who have never stepped foot in my class.  Let me tell you, it's not.  The ISN allows for the student to truly understand and explore the material being taught in the classroom.  The students are creating their own textbook where the teacher can really look and see what they understand and what misconceptions they still have.  The work completed in the ISN does not have to be the same from student to student.  Honestly, is that really how life works?  We are all the same? That's not how life works.  We're all different.  Why do we as educators expect to see all the students' work to be the same?  I feel like school is the one place where we want everyone to uniformly be successful at everything in the same exact way.  It's wrong to think that way and it bothers me to no end that some educators still do this in 2012.  There are students that love to write and rather express themselves that manner.  Some students like to draw and can explain the material through drawings better than through words.  Some students may have to come up with ways to actually do something in order to explain things and use their ISN down to jot down or maybe even record what they did.  It's ok.  It's ok to be different and learn in different ways.  We're human and the ISN takes into consideration the person, not just the student, that sits in your classroom day in and day out. 

Below is an example of one of my ISN's from this past year.  I go though about 2 a year (maybe 3 next year).  You really can't put a number on the number of books you use during a school year - it depends on what you want in it and how often you want to use it.

This is an author page.  I know it's a little like my cover BUT this one is all about the author of the ISN.  Some of the things on the cover can overlap.  Obviously I love science behind sports and my NY sports teams.  This is just a fun way for the teacher to learn a little bit about the student that will be learning in their classroom.
This is just an example of a title page for a unit.  Depending on how you set up your ISN you may have multiple units. A fun thing to do is have the kids create a cover on what they know about the topic.  You can scaffold it depending on what your students needs.
That's my little intro about a little book that took over my teaching life.  I'll get into more of the logistics and organization (that might be the best part about it) of the ISN.  This will be my 5th year using the ISN and I'm constantly coming with new things to make it better.  If I had my way, I'd love to see the ISN take over the world.  I think life would be pretty awesome if students were able to explore learning through means that are best for them.  Who knows, it might enhance learning for our kids.

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