I know, I know. Go Look in My (Interactive) Notebook….

Posted: July 14, 2016 in Interactive Notebooks
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Interactive notebooks have saved my sanity! I need to send heartfelt thanks to Sarah Carter of Math=Love. Hers was the first blog I found on interactive notebooks and even better, it was about algebra! For the last two years, my students and I have been cutting, folding, writing, gluing and learning as we build our notebooks. It is music to my ears when a student asks me a question and then answers themselves immediately with, “I know, I know. Did you look in your notebook?” I find it less musical when they ask me what page to look on. Um…how about checking the table of contents? Lindsay Perro’s are my go to for this. I use her editable side tab dividers and copy them on brightly colored card stock. Perfect!

So what else is in our notebooks? Here are some of our favorites.

My syllabus comes from Sarah, over at Everybody’s a Genius. I love that it’s one page and chunked into small bites of information. My special education students have no trouble understanding it. It’s editable, and as you can see, I’ve tweaked it a bit. I created a QR code (under the pink square). Create your own free code here! The syllabus goes home the first day of school, and when it comes back with signatures we glue it in our notebooks!

Looking for a great idea for the Real Number System? My favorite is from Chris at A Sea of Math. She found it here and then added her own spin to it. This is one foldable that we use regularly!

If you can time your lesson on And/Or Inequalities to coincide with Halloween, this foldable might fit the bill. The bat template was created by Jennifer Smith of Smith Curriculum and Consulting and can be purchased from her store on Teachers Pay Teachers. One of her readers, Jessica Cleeton, added the Inequality information (the original template is blank). This foldable is my students’ absolute favorite so far. Thanks go out to Jennifer too, for not only her great resources but her willingness to answer my questions. She has gone above and beyond to help me. Check out her blog 4mula Fun, for lots of great ideas!

Do your students struggle with finding domain and range as much as mine do? I’ve tried boxing in the graph and highlighting around it, but this little foldable has helped the most. The biggest problem I see is that when they are looking for the domain, they want to highlight around the x-axis instead of crossing it, so they end up getting domain and range confused. T. Haley, at Journal Wizard, apparently had the same problem. While the concept is similar to highlighting, the words to keep us on the right track are brilliant!

I added the infinities on the inside for a little extra help. The domain and range cards were created in Desmos and then I took screenshots of each graph. You can download them here. Remember to add arrows as you like to each graph. The cute little envelope was originally created by Kathryn of i is a number. Sarah Hagan of Math=Love resized it to fit the cards. Her envelope can be found here (scroll about halfway down the page).

Ah, functions… Anyone else’s students try to include the f(x) when they simplify, thereby turning it into some demented-looking equation? This foldable won’t help with that, (will anything?? Seriously. Let me know!), but it will help students understand where to find the x-value. Kathryn Freed, of Restructuring Algebra,  tweeted about her creation and one of her students told her to blog about it. So she did. Here.

I love Scaffolded Math and Science’s stuff. All of it. Choosing one to put on this page is a challenge. We both teach algebra to special education students, so her materials fit my classroom like they were made for it. Her Difference of Squares foldable (she calls them flippables) from Factoring Flippables was a huge hit. Everything we needed to successfully factor the difference of two perfect squares was right at our fingertips. She has many more great materials on her website and in her store. Check her out!

Need a foldable for the coordinate plane? I use Jennifer Smith of Smith Curriculum & Consulting’s Ordered Pairs and Graphing Flippable . It’s easy to read and understand and has everything on it that I need.

My last two must-haves are both from Sarah Carter of Math=Love. The first is a graphic of a TI-84 graphing calculator. I am firmly in the camp that teaches calculator skills to our students. Each skill gets its own page, complete with a calculator and step-by-step directions. You can find the link to download one here (two on a page) or here (three on a page, link is in the last comment). Need an Inspire? Check out the fourth comment.

The small screenshots are my own, created courtesy of the TI-Smartview program I won at the state math conference last fall. If you don’t have this program, I highly recommend it. Shout out to my TI rep Dana Morse. Couldn’t ask for a better one. He’s amazing.

My students figure out slope by using a number line. The old Integrated Algebra Regents exam had the slope formula included on the reference page. The new Common Core exam does not. Knowing my students are not going to remember a formula like this, I stopped using it. They are very good at figuring out how far apart two numbers are using a number line. Without one? Not so much. Enter Sarah Carter’s number line foldable. I tried the vertical version two years ago, and the orientation completely confused my students. This year she added a horizontal version. Thanks, Sarah! Find her post and the link to both versions here.

So there you have it. McLeod’s Crowd’s favorite foldables. What are your go to foldables?



  1. Amy Spencer says:

    This is GORGEOUS! I can really see the organization and thoughts behind many of the foldables. That function machine is a real winner. If I was creative enough to make the hole sizes work, I could even get composition of functions in there. You even color coordinated your flairs on the Difference of Perfect Squares page. However, I have to ask, how much money do you spend on colored paper and glue/tape?


    • lisakmcleod says:

      Thanks Amy!! I’m really happy with them. I have spent some money, but truth be told, my classes are self-contained with a cap of 15 but I rarely have more than 10 in a class. I bought a ton of colored paper at Staples a couple summers ago when it was on sale and still have some. I’m pretty careful with it. I buy glue sticks at Amazon in boxes of 60 for about $15. We chew through those pretty quickly. I buy a bunch of the composition books at Staples when they go on sale in the summer for either a dime or a quarter. The tape is provided by the school. My sped director bought me paper, more scissors and a ton of glue sticks for next year so I am currently sitting pretty!! I did find this link for glue sponges though and even bought the little containers but haven’t actually tried it yet.


  2. I love interactive notebooks. I sometimes can get a little too notebook happy 😉

    I love how your notebook is organized and there is a table of contents for each section. I also think it is genius that glue the syllabus into the notebook. I might have to snag that idea for my own notebooks!


    • lisakmcleod says:

      Feel free to borrow any ideas you see here. Anything that is not mine includes a link and a shout out to the original author. I always find it so helpful to peek at someone else’s notebooks. I need that visual! I came up with the table of contents for each section after finding that my students were too overwhelmed with a complete TOC in the front of the book. Smaller chunks of information fit their learning styles and disabilities much better.


  3. agilin says:

    Lisa this is awesome! Looks like you have taken a lot of time creating a very beneficial resource for your students. I especially love the colored paper and the calculator help instructions. I also laughed at your title 🙂 Love when it turns into holding them accountable to find on their own! For marketing class, I have used foldables for important vocab words including pictures. I hope to come up with some more uses this year! Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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