The hardest part of deciding what to put in my INBs involves the first few pages. If I forget something, or find something new afterwards, I won’t have any extra blank pages to use. Leave extra pages and I might run out during the year. Not to mention blank pages drive me crazy! For the last two years, the first four pages in my notebooks have been the same for all my classes. I haven’t thought of anything else that I want to add to this section, so I plan to keep it the same again this year. Let’s take a look.
I teach in New York state. That means my students must pass the Common Core Regents Exam in order to graduate. The state includes a references table of conversions and formulas for students to refer to while taking the test. This is good. Each exam used to have its own reference sheet. Not any more. The reference table was changed when we switched to Common Core to include conversions and formulas for every level of high school math, all together. This is not good. My students have a hard time figuring out what to use from a sheet with lots of information, much of which they don’t need and have never seen before. I knew they would need lots of practice using this document. In the past I have printed out multiple copies, laminated them and kept them in the class crate for students to use. When I switched to INBs, I decided to put a copy right in the notebook. I made a copy at 85% (Remember the magic number? I use composition notebooks so if I reduce any copies to 85%, they will fit these notebooks perfectly.), then made multiple copies on brightly colored paper. We glued them right on the inside front cover so they were easy to find, and we used them. Constantly. By the time they sit the exam at the end of 10th grade, they are so comfortable with the reference sheet that they can use it without thinking too much about it. Nailed it! Want your own copy? Find it here.
I decided to include my syllabus on the first page. After we go over it in class, students and parents must sign it. This gives them all the information they need, right in their notebooks. See my original post for more information. Not sure why they look like different colors. It is the same sheet, copied as a two-sided document.
The next two pages include an insert describing what an interactive notebook is, and the rubric that I use to grade them. I found these and saved them two years ago, never dreaming I would start blogging. I have not been able to find the sites where I found them. If they are yours, or you recognize them, please, please, please let me know so I can give proper credit and link to the site! The notebook description is included to help my students share the background behind the notebooks with their families. The rubric shows them exactly what I am looking for when I grade them. I try to do notebook checks at the end of every unit.
What I don’t include in the front of our notebooks? A table of contents. I tried this the first year and my students couldn’t find ANYTHING! Many have difficulty reading, so several pages of entries quickly becomes overwhelming. We create a separate table of contents for each unit. You can read about it in this earlier post.
That takes care of the first few pages of our notebooks. Now for the back.
My students love to play games. If you haven’t tried Plickers yet, you are missing out! I found this game before my school went 1:1. Most of my students do not have internet access outside of school. Few of them have working cell phones, let alone smart phones. Activities that require them to use technology used to be a constant issue in my room. They love to scan QR codes for scavenger hunts and task cards, and while they are very respectful and careful when they use my iPhone, one phone isn’t enough to keep things moving. With classes only forty minutes long, that is a huge problem. Enter Plickers. The only technology needed is one smart phone. I create multiple choice or true/false questions on the Plickers site and then run the game through an app on my iPhone. Each student is assigned a numbered Plicker card. I printed the cards and each student glued their card onto the inside back cover of their notebook. Now we don’t lose any time while they search for their cards. So handy!
The last of our startup foldables also goes on the inside of the back cover. For varied reasons, my students have poor basic math skills. I have a number line on the classroom wall, but that doesn’t help them when they are at home. For reference, we glue a number line inside the back cover of our notebooks. Sarah Carter of Math = Love created both a vertical and a horizontal number line foldable. I used the vertical number line two years ago, and my students had a hard time with the new orientation. She recently added the horizontal one and that works much better for us. As you can see, we glue it at the top of the inside back cover. When we need it, it folds out and can be seen and used from any page. Brilliant! See more information here.
So there you have it. A quick, easy startup for any math notebook. This year I will be adding Math 8 to my schedule and plan to use these pages for those notebooks too, changing the Algebra Reference Sheet to the Math 8 Reference Sheet. You can find a copy here. Need a Reference Sheet for a different grade? Find them here.
What are your go to startup pages? I would love to see them so please share!