Interactive notebooks are my saving grace in school. At first glance, they can seem overwhelming, but when organizing material for my kids, nothing beats them. The notebooks are an instructional and organizational tool that was brought about from the History Alive program years ago. I was fortunate enough to learn about it and have been making it better for my kids ever since. With the technology advances we've had in the past few years, the notebooks became even more powerful. All of my SMART board files are set up to look just like the notebooks that my kids work in. Everything we do is cut and pasted into the notebooks in an organized way. No more papers in the backs of desks, lost in backpacks, thrown away, or eaten by the dog.
Here is an overview I created to use with my kids. It's simple, but gives the main idea of the books. I've also included an idea of what it means to "process" our thinking and a few other things to help you get started if you wish!
At the beginning of the year, I just show them my SMART notebook examples just like I did on the video. My kids' supply list asks them to bring in 10 1-subject notebooks, but when I worked in schools where kids had a tougher time with supplies, I bought them for 5-10 cents on sale in August. Usually I get 2 units in each notebook, so I only need 3 for each subject. I also use a separate one for vocabulary/word study. The 10 my kids bring in is enough for every subject for the year. I don't use one for writing because it's hard for me to set up their writing binders in the same way since the writing can go on for many pages.
To start off the year, I collect all of the kids notebooks except the few they need to start off. I stack them in a cabinet with a post-it note to show me where each student's pile is. Then throughout the year, I open the cabinet and call the kids up to get their notebooks. I have the stash of notebooks that I buy every year to give to kids who don't have enough. The other thing I buy stock in is glue. I like the glue sticks because the wet glue makes it hard to write on the pages if you use too much. However, that glue holds better than the sticks, so if you choose to go with the notebooks, use what suits you best. I started using wet glue last year, but I tell the kids only one dot on each corner and one in the middle.
This is the basic start up at the beginning. When I start unit 1, the kids will see more specific set up instructions.