Parent Involvement

17 Aug

Unfortunately many parents feel that their involvement in their student’s school work should dwindle as they go up in grade levels.  I feel as though it is immensely important to involve parents especially at the high school level.  Too often a parent’s “involvement” stops at just signing off on a notebook or exam score.  I feel as though the involvement should (hopefully) spark at least a few minutes of conversation between the student and their parent.

I learned about two assignments at an AVID conference I went to and I love them!  One is the Parent Reflection and the other is a Teach Someone Something Form.

I often have the student use the Teach Someone Something form with other adults on the school campus (teachers, librarian, secretaries, etc).  I love having them involve their other teachers in the rest of what they are learning.

How do you involve parents in students’ learning and work?  Leave a comment with an idea or two!


Frequently Asked Questions

13 Aug

 I led a workshop this week on Interactive Notebook use in my classroom.  It was so fun but so strange to be talking to a room full of adults instead of students!  At the end of the workshop we broke into small groups.  Each group was given a topic that frequently comes up when discussing Interactive

Lost notebooks and/or new students
Quality vs. Completion
Student involvement and Buy-in

In my opinion, all people interested in Notebooks are either holding off because of one of these topics, or they are doing Notebooks and one of these topics is proving to be a struggle for them.  People brainstormed questions/concerns/tips and wrote them on a piece of paper.  I collected the papers and typed them up and provided my personal answers to the questions.  I think I will continue to update this document as I get new questions or my answers change over the years.  I thought I would provide it here in case it is a help to anyone.

Click here for FAQ Document

Materials Center

30 Jul

After several different attempts at organizing classroom supplies for Interactive Notebooks I have finally settled on a Materials Center.  In the corner of my room I have one set of tables that has everything in one place.  It is closest to my teacher desk so it is easy for me to keep an eye on.  Here are some things I have in the Center:

  • Paper
  • Scrap paper
  • Paper cutter
  • Hole puncher
  • Teacher copy of notebook for students to look at
  • Teacher coyp of Jumpstart book with all the warmups written in for absent students
  • Tower with supplies to borrow for tickets (students earn tickets and use them as classroom currency)
  • Extra worksheets
  • Resource books with ideas of types of Fold-ups the students can make

In the tower I have colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, index cards, calculators, etc.

It is so much easier to have one area to worry about instead of several small bins which is what I originally started with.  By having it in the corner it is out of the way but I can keep an eye on it.  It is close to the TA room so the TAs can replenish it with supplies or straighten it up easily.


26 Jul

I give my students passes at the beginning of the year. If they need more as the year goes on they “buy” them with tickets that they earn for things such as doing problems on the board for the class, helping me or another student, doing an excellent job on an assignment, etc. Our school doesn’t allow extra credit so the tickets are a fun way to motivate them. I will write a post about tickets soon.

I give them the following passes for the entire year:
– Late homework pass x3
– Late notebook check pass x2
– Late materials check pass x2
– Exit pass (for bathroom, locker, etc) x4
– Grumpy pass x1

The Grumpy pass is my favorite thing. It allows the student a day to just be left alone by me. They can go sit at a lab table or in the prep room, put their head down and I will leave them alone. It can’t be used on a lab or test day. They are responsible for coming in at lunch the next day to make up whatever they missed.

Students rarely use them but once in a while a girl will come in crying because her boyfriend broke up with her at lunch, or a boy comes in upset that he didn’t make the baseball team, etc.

I think it is important to recognize that everyone has a day when they just REALLY need someone to give them a break. The students really appreciate and respect this acknowledgement of them being people. Students struggle outside of school with their lives, and get little sympathy or understanding from their teachers. We know that not making the team is not the end of the world, but to them in GENUINELY feels like it is.

Wouldn’t you appreciate it if your boss gave you a Grumpy pass? Not going to lie…there was a BAD day last year where I just looked at my students and said “I need to use my grumpy pass today…” They were wonderful to me. They worked silently all period without direction. They were willing to give me a break when I needed it because I was willing to do the same for them. You have to find little ways to seem caring and human to your students.


Left vs. Right

22 Jul

In my interactive notebooks I use a “Left-Right” system.  Here is a little summary of what that means to me:

I have no real reason for having the output on the left and the input on the right other than that is how I learned it.  It also helps that most of my students are right handed so taking their notes on the right side is usually prefered.



22 Jul


Here is a look at the materials that I find most useful.  What I consider to be required materials are shown in bold.  Below you will find a list of some fun materials to keep on hand if possible. Please note that the brands listed are only my personal preference and I receive no compensation from the companies for mentioning them.

I am a fan of the Mead Five Star notebooks because of the plastic covers and strong spiral binding. I use 200 sheet 8.5″x11″ notebooks.  Make sure you get the 8.5″ x 11″ size so you do not need to trim the papers unless you want to (I recommend trimming them though!) Also, rip out all but one of the pocket dividers.  They just invite students to put papers in them instead of gluing them in!

The never-ending debate…liquid or sticks. There are benefits to both.  Liquid glue is cheapest and strongest…but it is messy and leaks.  Glue sticks are convenient and clean…but not as strong and they dry out. I have used glue sticks in the past but this year I am going to keep some liquid glue in the classroom for those that would like to use it instead, or for pages that keep falling out. I use Office Depot Glue Sticks.  Aside from being cheap, the Office Depot brand seems to stick the best in my opinion.  The reason is that they are the worst!  What??? Does that sound crazy??? The cheap, bad glue sticks do not go on smoothly.  They come off in small chunks.  This makes them stick so well!  You can also buy them in bulk.   NO TAPE.  Tape comes off and gets gummy and rips.

Color Pencils
I don’t ban markers because sometimes the bold effect of the markers is amazing.  Just make sure the kids really understand that they can bleed through. I recommend the Crayola brand.  I have had a hard time with the other brands being to “waxy” for good drawing on the paper

Red Pens
We use them for writing our “Targets” and for correcting our work.

Glitter pens
Overhead transparencies
Index cards
Colored paper