Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Notebook Phobia

Don't get me wrong- I've seen plenty of posts about notebooks and it seems easy enough. But I can't do it. I'm completely petrified of notebooks.

Any time I've ever attempted notebooks in the classroom, I end up giving up on them and they go home mostly blank. Mostly blank notebooks make me feel like a failure. It's a professional embarrassment. So, to avoid the trauma, I just don't do them. 

But next year, I have to. New team composition, new ideas. One team member really wants to try an interactive science notebook.  I really want to do lap books. The compromise is notebook for science, lap book for social studies- reevaluate at end of year. And we're all going to try Words Their Way, and apparently you need a notebook for that.

I'd probably have been fine if I hadn't had a conversation about notebooks with my daughter. But I did. She brought home all her notebooks from third grade, and gave me the run down on each one.  You know what phrase she kept saying over and over? "What's the point?"  

So here I am, already a hot mess when it comes to notebooks, and my girly has confirmed my inner fears. If kids are feeling this way about notebooks- then they are probably telling their parents. And even if they aren't, the whole point of the notebook is to help the student, yeah? But are we helping with these things?

Don't just take my word for it: 

Squirt on blank pages 

Squirt on what she had to write inside them

Squirt on storage

*horrors* Squirt on Word Study

Squirt on her future plans
I can tell myself I'm just being silly when it's only me thinking it in my head.  But hearing my daughter say it - FREAKING OUT.
Which, I suppose, is a silly thing to do.  But notebooks are like, a thing teachers DO.  Are we all failing at them, even if we think we're cool with it?  How do you make a notebook useful, necessary, interesting, and worth keeping?  If you can't, if it's not meant for that, then WHY are we bothering?
Somebody weigh in.  Let's get real.



  1. This year I'm going to try to do an interactive Reading Notebook. I've done them in the past - I fail at grading:(

    For Science, check out the Science Penguin. For Math - check out Runde's Room. I think Primary Polkadots has a reading one I'm going to look at.

    Not sure...just thought I'd pass those along. They might not be what you're looking for, but I do hear good things.


  2. I remember my mom would never let me buy new notebooks for school. We would tear out the 10 pages that had been used the previous year and use it over again. Which I guess would have been fine with me if they weren't notebooks my brothers (11 and 15 years older than me) had used in school too. What does that tell you about how teachers have been using these for decades....
    ❤ Karen
    Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade

  3. Thank you for sharing Squirt's comments. Very thought provoking! I DO plan to use a math notebook this year and I would like my kiddos to use many, many pages in it! For the last two years I have been using a science notebook, which my students LOVE. But rather than the spiral bound, they are pages with templates for whatever we are studying. For example, when we studied animals, the page would have a section for notes on the habitat, food, etc. But I must confess, there were blank pages left at the end of the year. I am going to keep in mind Squirt's words as we use notebooks next year.

  4. Oh my goodness! Your daughter is genius. We as teachers spend time implementing these ideas without explaining them to our students. I love the idea of notebooks and have used them myself; however, she makes excellent points.

  5. Deniece - I have seen the Science Penguin's stuff, and it does look ultra cool. I will have to check out your other suggestions.

    Snarf, Karen! Did hey have He-man pictures on the fronts?

    And thanks everybody for the comments. Squirt will be pleased pleased pleased that she got four comments on "her blog post".

    On talking to her a little more, trying to coax out the gem of the idea that would solve notebooks for me, she did relate that what she really wanted was a "fun picture" and a "fun poem or saying" to help her remember what was important. She thought all the things she had to write were not important.

    I will continue to pick her brain- but it kind of sounds like the bulk of the "notebook" should perhaps be anchor charts for lack of a better word. Maybe they can still write in some of the information, but I think they might need the frame.