Interactive Notebooks

Spotlight on Strategies By Jeanne Kumpunen


Being able to take notes and keeping track of information given in class can be a tedious and time-consuming activity for students. Many times the information that is contained in notebooks is not clearly understood by students and can't be connected clearly to content that is being taught. Using interactive notebooks as a teaching strategy allows students to take the information that is given in class and process it in a way that is meaningful to them.

Purpose of Interactive Notebooks

Interactive notebooks can serve many purposes. Here are some good reasons to use interactive notebooks.
  • Gives students a way to creatively enhance their own learning
  • "It can serve as an organizational tool for collecting information" (Ettere, )
  • "Enables Students to take ownership of their learning" (Ettere, )
  • "Students extend concepts and make connections" (Ettere, )
  • "Addresses multiple intelligences through non-linguistic representations" (Ettere, )

The Layout of the Interactive Notebook

The interactive notebook can used in any way that you, the teacher, wants it to be used. Layouts can vary but a prominent example of how an interactive notebook could be formatted is with the left side of the notebook being used for student-directed information, that is information that the student can interpret or format in any way that makes the information useful to them. The right side of the notebook can be used for teacher-directed information, or information that the teacher, video, or text gives to the student.

Here is an example of different items that can be placed on both sides of the notebook (Waldman and Crippen, 2009).

Left Side
1. Drawings, copied pictures, or photos
2. Personal reflections on information
3. Connections to world, other text, movies, or self
4. Predictions
5. Poems, songs, cartoons, or analogies about info

Right Side
1. Discussion or video notes
2. Vocabulary
3. Lab procedures
4. Articles from teacher
5. Worksheets

What Can an Interactive Notebook do for Your Classroom?

"The.. activities of the interactive notebook require students to actively engage with the language, concepts, and skills of the curriculum. Active learning requires self-reflection and the explicit integration of new knowledge and experiences. Learning environments that include these components demonstrate a strong relationship with student achievement" (Waldman and Crippen, 2009).

The interactive notebook documents the student's own learning journey about a particular topic or class. Interactive notebooks can include a table of contents to make it easier for students to find information they have been putting into the notebook. Thus, if the notebook is used for an open-note test it is easier for the student to access their information quickly and easily.


Try using interactive notebooks for this upcoming school year. Read the articles that are referenced in this flyer and see for yourself whether or not you can see a difference in student learning while using this powerful tool. I have seen an improvement in how well my students remember and interact with the information that they are receiving in my classroom that directly ties in with how well they do on assessment after each unit.


Ettere, D. (n.d.). Interactive Notebooks... What and Why. Teachers Pay Teachers. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from http://

Waldman, C., & Crippen, K. J. (2009, January 1). Integrating Interactive Notebooks: A daily learning cycle to empower students for science. . Retrieved July 20, 2014, from

More Information

Here is a link for more information on interactive notebooks. The site is a wikispaces site and is now part of the Creative Commons so anyone can add to it. I can no longer tell who the original author is but there is some great help here for getting started with interactive notebooks.
Planning and Setting up Interactive Notebooks for Teachers