October 2, 2014

Notebooks and Binders

Apparently I have a lot to say after the first month of school! The last four posts have been about things that are going well. Today I'm trying to figure some stuff out that hasn't gotten as smoothly as we'd hoped.

In the past we've used a binder system where students have sections to organize their papers and a specific system for notes in their reference section but the rest of the classwork was disorganized and frequently ended up in the recycling bin. This year we wanted to keep the binders for organizing assignments and reference materials but add a spiral notebook for classwork. We came up with a plan to merge several routines into the notebook. Then we started...

First, students struggled with the instructions "on the left hand page." So we drew a sample notebook on the board to model leaving it open and writing on the left hand side. Every time they are supposed to write a new heading in their notebook I add it to the model on the whiteboard. And sometimes I provide sentence frames (because IEP/ELL/9th grade).

Second, students don't want to write with their notebook flat, they always fold it back. This sadly defeats the purpose of starting on the left hand page - if they write their goals on the left we can still stamp while they're writing on the next page. But if they fold it back the spot to stamp rapidly disappears.

Finally, putting everything in the notebook means we have to look at the notebooks. We thought it would be convenient to have the stamps, quizzes and journals all in one place. However, we did not think about how annoying it is to get out the crates, open up their notebooks, find the correct page, and then finally be able to grade their work. I love the convenience for the kids of having everything in one place but I'm not finding it convenient for me.

The things that are currently in the notebook:
Stamps (ideally I'd like to tally them at the end of the week)
Do Now (not graded)
Classwork (not graded)
Quiz (graded)
Journal (read and responded to)

Last year:
Stamps were on small papers that got lost and not tallied
Do Now and Classwork were on lined paper that ended up in the recycling bin most days
Quizzes were on quarter sheets of scrap paper that got handed in, graded and then kids frequently lost them
Journals were on a full sheet that we collected on Fridays, read and responded to, handed back and then kids put them in the recycling bin (or in their binder, I should give some kids credit, but they never looked at them again either way)

Thought that occurred to me just now:
Stamp chart and space for the journal on a half sheet. Days with quizzes they'd take the quiz on the back. Then I'd actually look at all the things regularly. And a half sheet is big enough to hole punch and put in their binder but small enough to fit on the corner of their desk. Plus if the reflection is attached to the quiz they might even look back at it? Real possibility here! I'll offer this suggestion to my co-teacher and brainstorm further.

So I'm left with a question:
How do you use notebooks? Do you grade anything in them or have them do work in the notebook and hand in graded assignments separately?

1 comment:

  1. I use notebooks as a reference resource, something they look back on that explains how to do something. Their binder is separated into handouts, bell ringers (do now), quizzes, and tests. I only grade quizzes and tests and when I return to them, they keep it in their binder. Everything is kept in the binder. The notebook is in the pocket of the binder and is used as a reference when completing classwork. Binders go on a bookshelf separated by class. As soon as they walk in, they get out their binders and have everything ready to go.