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Interactive Notebook Rubric Examples

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Back in the day, the teacher wrote notes on the board and we dutifully copied them into our notebooks. Interaction? No thank you. These days, we like students to be creative, independent and critical thinkers. Using interactive notebooks allows children to record the information they need and express their understandings in unique ways.

What are Interactive Notebooks?

Interactive Notebooks (IN) are also often referred to as Interactive Student Notebooks (ISN). They are used in the traditional way, as a place for students to collect class information, but with a super attractive twist - they require kids to engage with the material in a tactile, imaginative way. Teachers are an important part of the creation of INs, and because of this, there are as many ways to use INs as there are classrooms. There are, though, a few things common to all users.

  • Interactive Notebooks have an arts/crafts/creative feel. Walk into the first five minutes of a class that uses INs and you may feel like you're at summer camp. There's a lot of cutting, gluing, taping and coloring going on! This is because INs focus less on the student writing notes and more on the student understanding them. So, teachers typically prepare a graphic organizer, definition page, etc., and instruct students how to cut, glue, color code, add additional information and interact with the 'notes.' Sound like fun? Kids think so, too.
  • Interactive Notebooks are intentional. Teachers use INs with a specific purpose in mind; notes, organizers, pictures, or any piece of information felt necessary to spark learning. They are not a place to tape worksheets, or a storage system for random work.
  • Students should pride themselves on, and rely on, their notebooks. If INs are used properly, the time and effort kids are putting into their notebooks should encourage a sense of ownership. Many students keep their INs well after the semester is over, both as a reference point and as a badge of honor.
  • Notebooks need to be monitored. The teacher has an important role in the intentional creating and monitoring of the notebook. Most teaches develop some type of grading system to keep students accountable. A rubric is a popular choice as an objective grading measurement.

What is a Rubric, and Why Do I Need One?

In education, a rubric is a simple tool teachers use to identify assignment standards and differing levels of completion of these standards. Rubrics are set up in a grid-like format with criteria running on one side and grading measurement on the other, though they may be simple scoring guides used every day. They are intended to be objective; teachers view the criteria, look closely at student work and choose the correct level of completion.

Although rubrics are typically used in summative assessment (work, tests or quizzes at the end of content meant to measure overall understanding), teachers need to add a measure of accountability when using INs. This formative measure (a measure used during instruction meant to gauge student understanding and possible future teaching points) sets the bar for students and lets them know your expectations. Without consistent, clear measurement, INs may get sloppy and out of order and students will have a difficult time utilizing them as a valuable resource.

Rubrics With Specific Scoring Criteria

Rubrics for Interactive Notebooks can be used daily or weekly to keep students actively aware of expectations. Many teachers check notebooks often and count these for quiz grades. Additionally, frequent checks give the teacher a clear view of who is using skills and to what level. These notebooks use specific criteria to determine grades.

Because checking notebooks daily or weekly has the potential to be time-consuming, make sure to keep the rubric simple. Across the top, choose numbers from 0-3 to determine the level of skill completion. Keeping the numbers low means there are points attached to the scoring, but they're not as weighty as test grades. For the criteria, determine what you consistently want to see your students completing. For example, most notebooks include and need a table of contents, page headings or titles (with date and page number), correct color coding, neatness and organization. These can all be branched under the category of Notebook Organization.

Another category for the daily/weekly IN check is Application. After students insert the new information, they will need to be able to show they are applying the skill to their work. Most notebooks have a specific place for work - some teachers prefer a left side/right side format, while others use a front side/back side format. Whichever you choose, make sure a category in your rubric checks for correct usage of the information in the notebook.

Finally, a third category in your rubric may be Homework. Many teachers have students perform homework directly into Interactive Notebooks, so having a place to grade completion is necessary.

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