Interactive Notebook: Literature

Y'all week one was TOUGH for me. I'm sorry that I didn't get this posted sooner, but I've been riding the struggle bus for about two weeks now. Ok, I'm done with my excuses, here's the content. :)

Five down, four to go. We've looked at the person, skills, content, informational texts (article of the week), and reading response sections. The next section up is literature. This section really is the meat of our notebook.

The literature section is where we keep all of the research, information, assessments, and responses to the literature that we study in class.

Sometimes, the content in this section is a graphic organizer, and sometimes it's a set of research outlines that have been sized down to fit in our notebook. 

This is a graphic organizer I gave my students at the beginning of our "Of Mice and Men" unit. It has four different aspects of background information (sociologist, historian, biographer, and    ). Student were in groups, researched their aspect of the background/time period, created a short presentation, and presented it to their peers. Each student took notes from the other groups' presentations.

This is an assignment that my intern taught during the "OMAM" (Of Mice and Men) unit. She just made a handout that has a double door flap with a picture on top. She taught a lesson on characterization; they had to put three pieces of textual evidence to support indirect characterization on the outside of the flap and five pieces of textual evidence to support direct characterization underneath the flaps.

This little chart is what my students use to plan their lit circles. They each get a chart that has all the jobs listed in each column; they decide who is going to start with each job and continue to work their way down their column as the unit progresses.

This is a booklet that I made from Got to Teach's Critical Thinking Literature Circles. It is a fabulous resources and really elicits some great thinking, responses, and conversations from my students. It has quite a few job options. We use five of the options in my class, so our booklet is five pages long. Printing and assembling it as a booklet ensures that all of our literature circle responses and notes stay in one spot.

Other things that I include that aren't pictured (yet), are interactive notebook literature activities. These are interactive notebook manipulatives that require students to apply the content of the novel to a specific layout. Here goes a shameless Tracee Orman plug. Her resources for this are fantastic. I'm no sponsored or endorsed by her; I just love her stuff.

Here are two examples of resources made by Tracee Orman that are included in our literature section. These resources are aligned to common core standards. They are sorted by and show how each foldable is aligned to a specific standard. This means that if you need to cover a specific standard, you can just scroll to that standard and choose a foldable that applies.

This resource allows students to apply a variety of content to the materials they're engaging with. This is the bundle, but she also offers these individually: plot, theme, story elements, figurative language, and vocab. They're also wonderful to use as sub plans ;)

There are obviously other assignments and activities that can go in this section: chapter summary responses, chapter question responses, close reading passages (I just copy my poem or passage onto a sheet that will fit into our notebook, and we complete all of the annotations right on the paper.), critical thinking assignments/questions/responses, and so much more. 

This section is usually 40+ pages in length. This year's literature section starts on page 81 and ends of page 124. That should give you idea about the amount of content we put in this section. If you need to, you can subdivide this section into units that you teach. That would keep all of your literary content in one place and still keep it organized. 

As usual, if you have questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or anything else, leave me a comment below and let me know. I'd love to help you out in your quest to implement interactive notebooks in your class. 

Also, if you're a no-reply blogger, please check out this link to fix that. Being able to respond to your comments in an email allows me to provide you with detailed information that might be specific to your situation. Thanks. 

We've only got three more sections to go. Next time? The writing section!


Interactive Notebooks: Reading Response

So this is how reading responses usually go....student "reads" the book, student looks up summary on amazon or sparknotes, student "borrows" that information to write a summary, and student hand in the "summary". Y'all, if I never saw another book "summary" for independent reading it would be too soon.

I hated reading them. That's honesty y'all. Hated. It. 1. I had either already read the book and knew what happened. 2. I had been wanting to read the book, and now it was ruined. 3. I didn't want to read the book, but could have gotten the same summary that they submitted from an online source if I wanted to. Ick. 

The first standard in the CCSS for my grade level is, "CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and 
thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain." The strategy I use gives me great way of addressing this standard and still keeping it interesting.

First off, each reading response has 5 requirements in my class.
1. List the pages that you read. pgs x-x
2. Mention which type of reading response entry you are using. (More on that in a minute.)
3. Make your entry at least four complete sentences. (You can modify this to fit your students' needs.)
4. Make sure you entry is on topic with your entry type and chosen reading.
5. Give the page number, paragraph, or line number of the part (of the text) that you are responding to" 
(What a great way to sneak in citation practice!)

This is our mini anchor chart with expectations and an example shown. 


This is a modified version of Marilyn Pryle's reading response system showcased in her book 50 Common Core Reading Response Activities. Her list of reading response entries provide students with prompts that they can use as scaffolding to build their inferences about the text. Each type comes with a title (so that students can label their response) and a few statements or questions to help them gather and mold their thoughts.
This shows the setup that we've used in our notebook. The anchor chart is glued or taped down onto the page. Then, the list of reading response options with prompts is taped in as a flap.
A few of the listed options
-Significant passage.
-Theme recognition.
-Mark the motivation.
-Cite the claim.

You can see a page with some of the RR options on it here. You can just click look inside, and it will show the two pages of reading response options that I'm referencing. As you can see, if you check out the link, 
each of these RR options had a brief statement or question to guide student thinking.  My students often say, "I don't know what to write," or "I don't have anything to say." This gives them ideas about where to start without too much scaffolding.It also keeps me from reading the same reading response from 
every student in the room. Praise the Lord.

This is straightforward, but pretty life-changing for me. No more passing out task cards and having 
students write the question they chose, so I can know what they're responding to. I don't have to read the same response 60 times. It allows my students a way to begin to shape and direct their thinking about the text. It ties in textual evidence and inferences: what more could I want. Let's just say it is fabulous.

My student are responsible for writing one reading response per week. I provide them with an address label rubric, and they do the rest. I know that I have my students for 18-19 weeks, and I know that they're going to write two responses per page in their notebook. Therefore, I allot 9-10 pages in our interactive notebook. It's a set, recurring activity that only needs that specific number of pages, so there's no guesswork. :) 

This isn't a student notebook. Sorry. It's my model notebook where I've shown them what their setup will look like: two entries per page. The sticker just includes those five requirements listed above.  When I grade, I just check them off. They're worth 5 points each. 25 points total. Y' can't fake these type of responses. They're genuine, thoughtful, and often times, deep. They're amazing. 

If you're interested in the rubric labels and anchor charts for the reading response and informational texts sections, I've uploaded it to my teacherspayteachers store here

If you're interested in the reading response topics created by Marilyn Pryle, you can visit the link here to check to get a list of those reading responses. I just typed in Marilyn Pryle reading responses and clicked on the fourth response. 

Questions? Send them my way in the comments box below, or feel free to email me. 


Interactive Notebooks: Informational Texts

One of the biggest struggles in Literacy classrooms can sometimes be incorporating informational texts into literary units. Another struggle, getting students to read on level. Another struggle, getting students to respond to what they read. The list goes on. I know that each specific content area has its struggles.

Something that I do to combat these issues is to have my student read about and respond to an article about a current event. How do I do this without driving myself bonkers trying to find appropriate current events articles? Kelly Gallagher is the answer.

If you've never heard of Mr. Gallagher, he wrote a lot of the awesome professional texts: Readicide, Reading Reasons, and Write Like This, among others. He also provides a formatted article of the week to use in the classroom each week. He compiles these articles from sources like CNN, Los Angeles Times, Today, Huffington Post, and The Week. They're formatted the same every week, they're posted once weekly, they're about interesting and sometimes controversial topics, and they're FREE. Yes, read that again. They're free! Jackpot!

These articles are usually one page front and back. Some of the topics that my students really enjoyed last semester were "Half of Teens Think They're Addicted to Their Smartphone," "Apple versus the United States Government," and "Editing the Human Race." Let me tell you what, teenagers have opinions, and they love to argue about controversial topics. Perfect.

So here's what I have my students do. Once a week, Tuesday for us, we silently read an article about a current event from Kelly Gallagher's Article of the Week webpage. Then, each student writes a one half page response about the content of the article. Kelly Gallagher says each student should write a one page response, but you can always make changes to this so that it fits the needs of your students.

I've provided my students with a mini anchor chart to keep in this section, so that everything is formatted correctly. It acts as a rubric of sorts.

Obviously, your requirements may be a little different, but I have five.

1. The response must include the title of the article. (How in the world do I know what you're talking about if I don't know which article you're referencing?)

2. Each response needs to include the date. (This keeps things in order for students and for me when I grade.)

3. Students must include THEIR OPINION about the content of the article. (I do not need a summary of the article...I can read. Just sayin'.)

4. It must include textual evidence from the article that they based their opinion on, and it has to be highlighted. (This serves a couple of purposes. It covers a standard for me: "Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain." Wowzers! That's a lot, but this assignment covers all of that. The second thing it does is allow me to make sure that my students understand what textual evidence is, what quotations are, and what paraphrasing vs summarizing is.)

5. They must write at least 1/2 page for their response. This forces them to explain their thinking instead of just jotting down some random ideas.

Here is my example, from my mentor notebook, where I wrote alongside my students for the first two weeks, so that I could model for them.

You'll also notice the address label sticker on the top and left margin of the page. That's their rubric. If you've been following along in this series, you might remember that I mentioned using stickers for recurring rubrics. Here's where that comes into play. Since we complete an article of the week every week, I just have my students apply a sticker to help them to fully complete the task and help me to give them feedback when I'm grading. 

The sticker below is based on my requirements, and therefore the one you use might look different. This will hopefully give you an idea of where to start though. You'll notice that it doesn't have a check space for the title or date. Because my space is limited on the address label, I try to stick with the most important aspects of their response: their opinion, textual evidence, locating textual evidence, and length of response. They get 5 points for each of these. 

If you're interested in including an informational text in your curriculum each week, Kelly Gallagher's article of the week is a great place to start. 

Another awesome resource for informational texts is Newsela. This provides articles about a variety of topics that you can connect to your content in class. The other really cool thing? It lets you a choose a lexile level for the articles. Can you say differentiation? Yes!

I hope this information was helpful. Know of other awesome resources for informational texts? Please share them in the comments below, so that all of our students can benefit!

Next up: Reading Responses


Interactive Notebooks: Content

Woohoo! This is one of my favorite sections! I love, love, love teaching and reviewing literary content. I'm such a nerd. And...I'm loving my new dividers for next year's interactive notebook!

Anyway, let's jump right in! This section is full of fun foldables and great content! This is the place to keep all of the information and content specific to your subject (that doesn't fit into a different category). Now that I'm trying to explain what goes in this category, I'm kind of struggling. I say "content", but everything in the notebook is probably specific to your content. Ok, the best thing to do is just show you what I put in our content section.

 Tone and Mood: I include these foldables from Lovin' Lit's literature interactive notebook. It is a great resource for foldables. These are great for reviewing, or teaching, tone and mood.

I pair the Tone and Mood pages from Lovin' Lit with these pages that I've found or created to support my students when teaching tone and mood. This particular page is stacked three pages deep, so that we can keep everything about tone and mood on this one spread.

 This is a foldable that I created for an extended metaphor prezi that I use in class. I just created this page by using shapes and text boxes in powerpoint to setup the format in the top picture. When you cut it down the middle vertically and horizontally in the middle, it creates this four flap organizer. The student's organizers had notes under each flap.

This is a inference puzzle that I made from a free puzzle piece clipart set. My students thought inference meant "good guess", so we needed to correct that definition a little. We reviewed using the puzzle foldable. Then we used task cards *note the multiple choice answers shown*. Lastly, we took
a couple of briefly notes based on a discussion and activity that we completed in class.

This is a foldable made by my intern to review characterization. Yes, I know that characterization is taught in the seventh grade. Let's all keep in mind that students don't always retain what is taught. Therefore, we review and dig deeper.

 This is another awesome foldable from Lovin' Lit. It's a plot sequence review. We just glued this in and applied it to a wordless pixar short. The definition is on top of each flap while content that we applied goes under the flap.

 Yep! Another Lovin' Lit. (No, I'm not endorsed or affiliated. She just has great resources at awesome prices!) This one is great. It allows students to take notes, but it also includes a situation sort to help students practice this content.

 This thematic statement flap book is what we use when we get ready to write our thematic analysis papers. It's full of rich content with lots of scaffolding for my students. I created it to help guide them through the process and to provide them with a reference to use in the future.

 This gem was created by my intern and me. It worked well, and my students loved the variety. This was a place for their notes.

The picture on the top is where they practiced their rhetoric spotting skills. This is a fun little resource from B's Book Love. The bottom picture is from my Archetypes Resource that I use for teaching character archetypes.

This obviously isn't everything included in this section, but I wanted to give you a visual idea of what type of content I include in the, well, content section. :)

If you teach English and feel overwhelmed at the thought of finding resources for this section, you might check out the resources that I linked within the post. Those of you that teach other subjects might check out pinterest and teacherspayteachers. Please note that the following links are just suggestions based on searches that I performed on teacherspayteachers. I have no idea about the content or quality of these resources. Please check them out before purchasing. I just wanted to give you a starting place.

Science Interactive Notebooks
Science Interactive Notebooks 2: Physcial Science

Math Interactive Notebook: Algebra
Math Interactive Notebook 2: Geometry

History Interactive Notebook: Ancient History
History Interactive Notebook: American History

 If you're super awesome and fearless and have all kinds of time to create all of your resources from scratch, you can check out these blank foldable templates to help you save some of your sanity.

The Ultimate Interactive Notebook Template Collection (Blank Editable Templates) by Lovin Lit

Interactive Notebook Templates 1000+ (Classroom & Commercial) by The Candy Class

Interactive Notebook Templates by Tangstar Science

If you're hesitant to purchase a set of these, there are lots of free foldable sampler packs on teachers pay teachers. This is a great way to wet your feet. You can also find lots of FREE resources in an online search and on pinterest.

Questions, comments, concerns? Hit me up!

I hope that you're enjoying these posts, and that you'll come back soon for the next part of this series: the article of the week section: informational texts!


Interactive Notebooks: Skills

Before anything else, please allow me to apologize profusely. My plan for this series was to publish one post per week. However, I've only had intermittent internet for about two and a half months now. (Like 2 weeks worth of days out of two and a half months.) So, I'm going to try to do some catching up this week.

This particular section is super useful and a little tricky. What goes here? How do my students utilize this information? Why is it called skills?

This sections houses all of those awesome skills and strategies you have shared with your students: annotating, close reading, notice and note reading, research methods, and more. This is all literary for me because that's what I teach, but if you taught your students how to solve multistep equations, you can put it here. If you teach your students correct lab procedures, you guessed it, put it here.

Remember though to assess the content before you put it here. Is it a skill/strategy that they can use in multiple situations? Is it only applicable to one lesson? If it is truly a skill/strategy, it will be applied to multiple lessons. It's probably what I would consider a building block lesson. If it's content related it goes behind a different tab. For me, those are lessons like identifying, analyzing, and creating examples of figurative language. More on that later.

This year, this section was 28 pages long. I didn't use near that. However, I didn't utilize this section quite like I wish I would have. I've got big plans for it next year. Although I didn't use it and plan to, I'm still going to cut this section back a little. 20 pages is probably more than enough for this section.

This year, I housed my student Bloom's Taxonomy flip chart and question table here. This particular lesson is a great place to start when teaching students to write upper-level questions when they are preparing for a discussion. Instead of "who was the main character?", I get questions like, "what might have happened if the main character hadn't decided to fight for what was right?" It's definitely a question that gets them thinking a little more, and it's written by the students: win. win.  Another win? This is a FREE resource from Got to Teach! Click the pictures for a link.

I've also housed my notice and note signpost here in the past. Notice and note is a reading strategy that requires students to, you guessed it, notice and then note various aspects of the text while they are reading. I housed the signpost and our notes here because it was a strategy they applied to their reading. We kept all of our actual notice and notes, completed while reading, in a different section.
This resource is no longer available on tpt, but I've got a solution. A different version is available for FREE on Ladybug Teacher Files website. Check it out here!

Close reading strategies call this section their home as well. I love, love, love the text "Falling in Love with Close Reading." (If you're a literature teacher and haven't read this, go out and get it, you won't regret it.) Our initial example of how to complete a close read, plus our list of lenses is kept here. Obviously, our actual close reads are somewhere else. This is just a reference page. I don't have any images of our close reading notes in this section, so I'll show you what the book looks like and give you a non-affiliated link. "Falling in Love with Close Reading" 

I've also used "Introduction to Close Reading" by Making Meaning with Melissa on tpt. It is a great resource! It walks student through how to close read step by step. It also provides informational texts, literary texts, comics, pictures, and more to practice with. A color coded key, seen below, is included. This is in my teacher model notebook. Students will mark their own texts with annotations. 

Annotation is another strategy housed in this section. I provide my students with a simple little chart of annotations that they can use (or they can use their own). Then we tape in a poem, song, speech, short excerpt of text, and etc. and annotate it. This provides us a reference when we get ready to annotate other pieces. What are we looking for, what does it look like, how should I mark that so that my partner is on the same page?

There are so many things that can go here. This is a very limited list. The sky's the limit. If you teach your students 20 strategies, that's great, put them in this section!

If you have questions about the skills/strategies sections, please let me know, and I will answer them in the best way I know how.

Up next, one of my favorites: the content section!


Interactive Notebooks: The Personal Section

This post in the series will cover the first section of our notebook: personal.

This is one of the nine tabs in our notebook. This section is approximately 7 pages long. The “personal” tab is attached to the front of page three. You can let your student decorate this page, provide a pre-printed divider for the page, or leave it blank. However, I choose not to put any assignments/information on my divider pages.

The items my students house in this section are specific to them.

      1. Reading Log: I teach English. For ease of record keeping, my students keep an independent reading log in this section. You can have them draw the chart or supply them with a pre-printed one. My pre-printed log has a spot for the title of the text they’ve read, the author’s last name, and the number of pages.

      2. Assessment Log: This is where my students keep track of their pre and post test scores. Again, you can have them draw one, and save paper, or you can supply them with one. Simple does it: assessment title, pre-test score, and post-test score.

      3. About me: You know that cute, or not so cute, surveys you have students complete in the first couple of days? They go here. I usually just a have them complete a thorough double-sided form. The one pictured below is great for upper grades and is from Kacie Travis' tpt store: Managing and Motivating Math Minds. You can click here to access this resource, or click on the picture. (Pssst. I'm not affiliated. It's just a great resource for a great cost.)

4. Clock: We use clock partners throughout the year. The premise is easy. Each student gets a printed clock. Then, they spend a couple of minutes during class setting “appointments” for each hour. For example, Sally walks up to Johnny and says, “Do you have a 12 o’clock appointment?”. Johnny replies with, “No.” So, they set an appointment for 12 o’clock. Johnny writes Sally’s name by the 12 on the clock in his notebook. Sally write’s Johnny’s name by the 12 o’clock in her notebook, and the appointment is set. This allows for variety of partners throughout the year. When you need students to find a partner, just tell them to meet with their x’oclock appointment.

      5. Plickers: Plickers is a nifty little website that you can use for a lot of different things. The way it works is this. Each student is entered into the plicker website and has a unique plicker “card”. The plicker “card” is a qr code card. Each side of the card represents a different multiple choice answer. If the student holds up the card right side up (as taped in their notebook) it represents an “A” answer. If they rotate the notebook left, it represents “B”, and so on. You enter questions into the website, display them on the board, and the students hold up their Plicker cards to answer. The super nifty part? All you have to do is scan the room with your phone or tablet to gather their answers and see who it right. Just go to the website. It does a much better job of explaining this. Anyway, students keep their plicker cards in this section.

      6. Tickets: Part of my classroom management includes a raffle style drawing at the end of each month. (You’d be amazed what a kid will do for a pack of fruit gushers.) Anywho, my student tape an envelope into this section to keep up with their tickets. The tape the envelope in as a flap, address side up. Then, we just use a paper clip to keep the envelope closed after we insert tickets. Envelopes can be used for a variety of things and don’t necessarily have to be for tickets. However, this is what our envelope in this section is used for. (Excuse the big black box, I didn't feel the need to display my school's return address.)

You don’t have to limit your students’ personal section to these items. This is just a list to give you an idea of what I do in my classroom. Anything you want can be housed here. Remember that you can always lengthen or shorten your sections based on what works best for your students. 

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or email me.

Keep an eye out for the next installment in this Interactive Notebooking series: the skills section.