Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Classroom Notebooks Revisited

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article regarding a letter I send home prior to midterm grades, and I usually send something like it again before the end of each term as well. A couple of readers had questions so I decided to revisit the whole thing.

Teachermom asked…I have one question - what kinds of things/sections do the students have in their notebooks?

I’m so glad you asked me Teachermom! I could have sworn when I posted the article that I had previously written an article regarding my notebook guidelines, but for some reason I didn’t link to it. Yesterday I did some research and found the article from August, 2006 titled Keeping a Notebook: Elementaryhistoryteacher Style.

This article should answer your questions though I believe I should also post a walk-through lesson where I have students writing notes. I’ll try to get to that soon. :) If you use notes and a classroom notebook in your classroom, I encourage you to read the article.

My great blog friend, Polski3, also had a few questions regarding the grading process for the notebooks. He asked, What are the elements of the notebook grading rubric? Just a few to consider: Is it complete? neat? Did the student follow instructions? Is it completed on time? Is there evidence that the student is using their notebook as a learning tool?

The image I’ve provided with this article is one example of a very informal rubric I’ve used with much success. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible so it’s quick and painless for me. I also want it to be as simple as possible for students to use if they grade each other as I mentioned in the article. Click on the image and you can see a larger version and read the grading elements.

One question Polski3 had did give me pause……..Is there evidence that the student is using their notebook as a learning tool? Not always. Just because the student passes the end-of-unit-test it doesn’t necessarily mean he/she utilized his/her notes. However, at various points during class I attempt to reinforce for students the fact that they do have a very valuable tool at their fingertips. For example, when I attempt to connect mastered material with new information I might ask a series of review questions. It is very easy for me to walk over to the posted table of contents in my room and wonder aloud, “Hmmmm….I wonder where that answer might be in my notebook?” Suddenly there is a flurry of folder pages being turned and poured over. I also encourage students to utilize their notebook first before turning to the textbook when completing crossword puzzles and other review activities.


Teacher Mom said...

Thanks so much for the post! Your guidelines and purpose for notebooks is great. I bet that this is extremely beneficial.

M-Dawg said...

I use a binder system with dividers for my 9th graders in World History. It seems to help them stay somewhat organized and I go regular binder checks.

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