35 Better Interactive Notebooks for NGSS

September 11, 2020

In this episode, Erin discusses strategies for using interactive notebooks in an NGSS-aligned class. She discusses the flaws in traditional notebook methods. Also, she discusses why these methods don’t align with NGSS.

How to Improve Interactive Notebooks in an NGSS Class

It is important that your interactive notebooks align with the intent of the NGSS. An NGSS-aligned notebook is reflective of a student-driven learning environment.

With NGSS, students learn using a discovery-based approach rather than teacher-driven methods. So, it’s important that your interactive notebook reflects this approach.

We often discuss discovery-based learning on the podcast. But, if you’d like more information, start here.

What You Need to Know About Old Notebooking Methods

Teachers created traditional notebook structures for previous versions of the standards. In these versions of the standards, there was a greater emphasis on content knowledge and teacher-led instruction.

As a result, the structure of the notebook supports the learning of content knowledge. However, the design doesn’t support a discovery-based approach.

The Right Side – Left Side Organization in a traditional notebook encourages teacher-driven lessons.

Some traditional notebooks use the right side-left side organizational strategy. Often, the right side of the notebook is for input. The left side is for students to interact with the material on the right side.

Input for right-side activities is often reflective of a teaching-as-telling strategy rather than a discovery-based approach. With half of the pages designated as input, this promotes a passive learning environment.

By contrast, NGSS-aligned classrooms emphasize student discovery. Students take a much more active role in their learning.

To learn more about teaching-as-telling and how it differs from a discovery-based approach, check out this episode.

What should go in an NGSS-aligned interactive notebook?

An NGSS-aligned notebook is a representation of student discovery. So, the notebook should be a record of student learning and how it has changed over time.

An emphasis on the SEPs, CCCs and Phenomena

An NGSS notebook contains information and observations about phenomena. Also, the notebook should help students to make connections using the Science and Engineering Practices. Finally, an NGSS aligned notebook helps students make connections between content and the Crosscutting Concepts.

For example, have students write what they notice and wonder about phenomena. This incorporates the practice of Asking Questions.

Also, have students add models, experimental design and connections to the practices.

What tools help students make 3d connections?

Erin suggests using scaffolding. For example, she uses graphic organizers to make connections to the Crosscutting Concepts. This way, she can make sure that she is emphasizing sub-components of the concepts for a specific grade level band.

To see her graphic organizers, click here.

Should vocabulary be added to an NGSS-aligned notebook?

It’s fine to include vocabulary in your NGSS-aligned notebook. However, it’s important that you use best practices for teaching vocabulary. For example, avoid front-loading vocabulary.

Can you make a digital version of an interactive notebook?

Yes! You can absolutely use a digital version of a notebook.

Previously, Erin used a Table of Contents method to create a notebook. To learn more about this method, click here.

Nicole created an awesome video with tons of information about digital notebooks. So, for more information watch it here.

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