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Interactive Notebook

History Alive is a program that provides a different way to offer instruction in the Social Studies classroom.  For more information on the program see the following website:

Eight History Alive Strategies

Interactive Slide Lecture

Social Studies Skill Builders

Experiential Exercise

Writing for Understanding

Response Groups

Problem Solving Groupwork

Interactive Notebooks

Culminating Projects

What is the Interactive Notebook?

Interactive Notebook...

Allows students to record information about history in an engaging way. They can…

Transform written concepts into visuals

Find main points of a political cartoon

Organize historical events into a topical map

Draw whatever illustration that makes sense to them

Personalize the historic event

Interactive Notebooks…

Organize the student

Help students sequence assignments

Encourage pride in student work

Facilitate cooperative interaction

Appeal to multiple intelligences

Provide opportunities to spiral instruction and facilitate learning

The TASK is…


Takes patience

Requires good modeling

Must be consistently reinforced

This teaching skill takes time to learn

Many student notebooks are drab repositories of information filled with uninspired, unconnected, and poorly understood ideas.  History Alive Website

Interactive Notebooks…

Are colorful with diagrams, bullets and arrows

Are in pencil and crayon

Are presented in a unique, personal style

Key ideas are underlined in color or highlighted

Venn diagrams show relationships

Cartoon sketches show people and events

Timelines illustrate chronology

Arrows show relationships

Interactive Notebooks Require

Students to record history in an engaging way

They use several types of writing and innovative graphic techniques to record history

They are forced to process these ideas

They might transform written concepts into visuals

Find the main idea of a political cartoon

Use a graphic organizer to place historic events in a relational way

Students are encouraged to use critical thinking and be more creative, independent thinkers

What students need…

Notebook, pencil, colored markers or crayons, highlighters

They might use scissors, glue stick, and more colored pens

Interactive Notebooks encourage

Notes to be organized, logically ordered

Information processing in the student’s brain

Better understanding of history

Interactive Notebook

On the right side record your notes in normal way—teacher input side

On the left side—student output side

Translate your note material into a


Graphic organizer

Mind map

Picture sentence

Right Side

Opportunity for teacher to model for students how to think graphically

Teacher organizes the common set of information that all students must know

Left Side

Requires students to process information

Requires students to actively do something with the information to internalize it

Gives students permission to be playful, imaginative, experimental, creative

Allows various learning styles to process information

What can go in it????





Graphic organizers



Charts and graphs


Letters from famous people

Why Interactive Notebooks?

Students use both their visual and linguistic intelligences

Approach understanding in many ways

Use many types of writing and graphic techniques

Each student can select their best medium to explore and learn new content

Note taking becomes an active process

Students are invited to take notes—it’s fun!

Students will read their notes—they have to in order to process for the left side

Students will be working with (rehearsing) the information which facilitates learning

Students will actively be involved with history

Notebooks help students to systematically organize as they learn

Organization is key to the notebook

Concepts like

Table of Contents

Numbering pages

Recording SOL numbers

Topic headings

They stress the organization of a book

Notebooks become a portfolio of individual learning

These are personal


They record student growth in history

They show progress

They serve as a chronological record of the learning and are great for review

The Cover

Encourage creativity

Decorate as student desires

Nice opening activity

Stress key elements that must appear on the cover

Course name


Class period (Middle and High)

Student’s name

Getting Started

Have students save 5-10 pages at the front of the notebook to house information about notebook, cumulative table of contents.

Have them number the pages immediately so that they start in an organized fashion

Getting Organized

At the front create an organizing page (Table of Contents)

This can be as detailed as you desire

This will help you when you evaluate

Each unit should begin with a title page and have a more detailed list of contents for grading issues

Student Handouts

The notebook should hold everything when possible

Folding and gluing, cutting and gluing are key to organization

As students age and material becomes too complex a separate folder (pocket folder) can be added to hold handouts that are multi-paged

Key to Successful Notebook Assignments

Pay careful attention to how you word and present each assignment

Be prepared to explain

You are asking students to do something different from traditional assignments

If necessary, you may need to model

Criteria for Assignments

Give explicit details of what you expect

Number of examples


Material to be covered

Use verbs

Explain where in the notebook

Tell what resources should be used

Include specific references to colors you want included

Encourage creativity and imagination

Keep A Master

Keep a master notebook of assignment directions and due dates available at all times for absent students

Make it the students’ responsibility to make-up incomplete assignments and check on notebook activity when absent

Daily Evaluation Suggestions

Glance at notebooks each day for the first few weeks of the semester

Walk around and give positive comments

Get a stamp or use a symbol to monitor

This encourages timely accomplishment of assignments

Encourages notebook use

Points out those who "don’t get it!" so that you can help

Depending on the age level—note taking must be supported and taught

Pass out a model of outstanding notes for a lecture or activity

Have students evaluate their notes as compared to the model

On occasion, allow students to use their notebooks to take a quiz

Formal Evaluation

Up to you but you must do it if you want the students to keep the notebooks

Don’t collect them all at once. Do a few each day over a period of time

Don’t feel compelled to grade every entry

Carefully evaluate what you feel are the most important entries

Spot-check other assignments

Clearly explain at the beginning of the semester the criteria on which notebooks will be graded

Create a notebook evaluation sheet

Require students to do a self assessment of their notebooks.

Interactive Notebooks if used properly can be the best tool a teacher can have.  These notebooks organize student notes and responses, become the major method of test review, and ultimately become a key element for review for the Standards of Learning assessments.  These notebooks become the important connection between those dry and sometimes boring notes that the students now transform into vivid, visual elements that soon reside in the student's memory bank! 

This page was updated on:  04/10/02