cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 1: INBs and foldables and tests, oh my!

Introducing the Interactive Notebooks (INBs) on Day 1 of school worked ALMOST PERFECTLY!

You should have seen the scissors and tape flying in there. :-)

I introduced the concept to my class of 7th graders very briefly, then quickly got them  busy DOING things -- getting handouts, making a foldable on the parts of the INB, filling it in, and setting up their table of contents pages. The homework tonight is to finish setting up the TOC pages and study the foldable on the parts of the INB in preparation for tomorrow's test. Yes, a test! On Day 2! I must be a maniac!

I did the same with my mostly 8th grade class, though we didn't get through quite as much as the earlier class. In their defense, they do have Algebra right after lunch and frankly, after all the rules and responsibilities reviews all morning, nobody is at their best right after lunch on the first day.

The funny thing, though, was that the activity instantly got everybody engaged in what was going on. Because no one had ever done it before, no one was at a particular advantage or disadvantage. They've all been cutting and pasting since pre-school, but never in the service of their more recent learning.

I used the document camera to model what we were doing and I found that the kinesthetic aspect added an extra dimension of interest to the activities. The foldable was on yellow paper, and my scissors have bright orange handles, and I was showing them where and how to fold and cut and snip. There were some misfires during the cutting process (which I had anticipated there might be), but I told these students to simply recycle the spoiled handout and get a new one from the hanging file because in mathematics making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process and we simply regroup and keep going.

I got the impression that no one had ever normalized the mistake-making process, and that made me even more eager to play The Mistake Game with our giant group whiteboards.

At the end of each class, I took a brief, unscientific poll and discovered that nobody in either class had ever done a foldable in class before! Egad! And they all really seemed to like the tangible nature of managing the learning of abstract procedures.

I'm excited to see what happens on Day 2. Stay tuned for more!

4 comments:

  1. I am looking forward to reading more about your work. This is my first year trying both, and I was wondering if the process goes quicker??

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  2. Christy,

    This is my first year with the INB, though I used some foldables last year with great success. For my own part, I found that even the second class period with the INB went smoother than the first one, and there seems to be a "culture of INB" that springs up as students begin to help each other and answer each other's questions.

    One of the things I like so much about the INB is that it is a very specific structure that seems to be incredibly freeing for students. Within the structure, they have great freedom to experiment, to own their own learning, and to succeed as students. It also makes tangible and experiential my expectation that they will focus their attention on the higher-order thinking we want to cultivate. It puts procedural instructions into their place as a means to an end and sends the message that these are merely opening day skills and tools, not an end in themselves.

    I think that on Friday, we might have a "Beauty Pageant" of INBs so that students can show off their work to each other and receive positive reinforcement for their engagement. We are creating our own classroom culture and a culture of autonomy and creativity. I have never felt so jazzed about Day 1 of Algebra 1, and I was excited to receive this e-mail from a student this evening, checking in on the Table of Contents pages:

    I'm so happy to be in your class this year. I would like to ask how to do tonight's homework for Algebra. Should I paste the four pages into the Composition notebook?

    Just the fact that she is e-mailing me about the homework in the INB makes me so happy for her new style of engagement in math class!

    Keep me posted on what you discover, and remember that you too are free to make mistakes as you figure out how to do this. :)

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

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  3. I am also excited for introducing my INBs! I hope my first day goes as well as yours. :-)

    Twitter: @aanthonya

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  4. I clearly didn't do so well with the INB introduction. Since no one had any supplies the first day and school started on a Monday this year, I didn't introduce the notebook until the third or fourth day. That day was so much fun, with everyone cutting and taping and asking questions. But now it's falling apart, 2.5 weeks into the year. I have some incredibly disorganized students, such as one who brings a RANDOM notebook to school each day and uses it for every class, using whatever page she turns to for notes. I am planning to have a notebook decorating party in a few days to motivate the ones who haven't decorated yet and to give me time to walk through the notebook with the kids who are confused.

    On the plus side, I did have one student who lost his notebook come to me for all the handouts and foldables so he could rebuild his notebook. At least one student is seeing the value of the notebook.

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