Interactive Digital Notebooks: Paperless, Colorful, and Media Rich

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What exactly is an Interactive Digital Notebook? Is it similar to regular Interactive Notebooks? How are they used in the classroom?  What are the advantages over traditional interactive notebooks?  I hope to answer these questions in PART 1 of my 3 part post on Interactive Digital Notebooks.

What Are They?

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Interactive Digital Notebooks are very similar to traditional Interactive Notebooks.   They can cover the same content, same skills but the difference is that in a traditional Interactive Notebook, a student would be cutting and glueing parts into a notebook.

In the DIGITAL version, students work in Google Slides to complete a task involving content or a skill.  For example,  a student might drag and match causes and effects of the American Revolution.  Students might also look at a diagram or illustration and be asked to make inferences. In a DIGITAL notebook, those elements can be in COLOR!

So there would be no coloring involved unless the tasked involved drawing, which is another possibility in an Interactive Digital Notebook.  Students could also find and insert their own images from the Internet as well!

Here’s an example in which I had the students draw the layers of the Earth using Google Draw and insert it into their Interactive Digital Notebook:

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In a traditional Interactive Notebook, the student might cut apart pieces to fit together to make the layers of the Earth and glue then into the notebook and label them.    Instead of this traditional paper and pencil task, replace it with a digital task that involves creativity and learning to use drawing tools (these are universal tools which will aide the student in the future).  If you would like to learn how my students did this with Google Draw, HERE’S a TUTORIAL.

How Are They Used?

You might ask:  but how will I incorporate them into my instruction?  There are many ways to do this. Since each slide in the Interactive Digital Notebook is separate (just like the pages of a

traditional paper notebook), you set the pace!  For example, I might teach a lesson the Earth’s rotation and revolution in space.  I might have my students turn in place or walk in a circle to demonstrate rotation and revolution.  We might construct models of rotation and revolution using materials such as styrofoam balls.  Once students have a understanding of the concept of rotation and revolution, I then begin using the Interactive Digital Notebook to expand their learning and cement it in place.  I

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might have the students watch a video (the link being on the slide) showing how the Earth rotates and revolves in space all the while they are taking notes.  I might also have them research the length of the day and year to the precise minute and seconds using a hyperlink also on the slide.  With this information, the student then answers questions or writes explanations on the slide to show their understanding of rotation and revolution.

In other words, I didn’t spend time having them cut and glue pictures of the Earth rotating or revolving, but instead had the students further research so they became more invested in their learning.  In the end, by using the Interactive Digital Notebook, the student has spent more time learning about rotation and revolution than in a traditional notebook.  We’ve all heard the anecdote that when a student has to teach another student about something, the student who is teaching learns even more or becomes even more proficient.  With that in mind, once a slide has been completed in the Interactive Digital Notebook, the student can use the slide to make a presentation (just like a PowerPoint!) and teach others.  The other students can listen to the presentation and take notes.  They can also be utilized for partner work or small group work.  More on that in Part 2!

Interactive Digital Notebooks can also be used to assess student learning, especially if you are using Google Classroom.   You can assess, score and give feedback all online and digitally!  No collecting 25 or more notebooks to look at and score.  Just look each Interactive Digital Notebook online in Google Classroom!  Send feedback through comments to guide students who go off track or need more challenges.

What Are the Advantages of a Digital Notebook?

So what exactly are the advantages to switching to an Interactive DIGITAL Notebook?  There are 3 key points to remember about going digital:

  • paperless
  • colorful
  • media rich

Working in a digital environment means no more worrying if you’ll exceed your copy limit at school.  Going paperless means that students can make corrections at any time without damaging the file (think about each time a student glues the paper in the wrong place or upside down in a traditional Interactive Notebook).  Also, going paperless means you can differentiate slides for students who need more challenge or for students who need more support. Also, no more making copies of print resources that are used in conjunction with the notebook.  Instead, just add a link and the student can read it on the screen.  Remember, any document that can be scanned, can be turned into a PDF for online access.

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Another big advantage is COLOR.  We all know the effect of COLOR on memory and learning.  When visuals are in color, we remember and comprehend better.  So go ahead and add those amazing Hubble images!  Go ahead and beautiful and colorful clip art!  It’s not going to be printed or copied, so add it to your delight without worrying if you’ll use up your entire ink cartridge in your printer!  It’s also more motivating and exciting for students when materials are in color.

Finally, the MAJOR advantage over traditional Interactive Notebooks is the ability to embed or link to different media.  You can add video, animation, hyperlinks, audio and even GIFs.  Yes, as a teacher you can certainly show the videos, animations, visit hyperlinks, and listen to audio as a whole class with a teacher at a computer and a projector.

But let’s face it, how many students keep up with the video and are able to take notes (something necessary in today’s learning environment!)?  With the link in their own copy of the Interactive Digital Notebook, students can watch a video at his/her own pace.  The student can rewind it, fast forward it or watch it multiple times.  The same goes for hyperlinks to content.  Students need to be able to explore these links at their own pace and learn to take notes that will then be used to supply needed information in the Interactive Digital Notebook.  On another note, this is excellent practice for the SBAC and PARCC which can contain video and audio links the student would need to use to answer questions or complete a task!

Finally, here’s another BONUS of the Interactive Digital Notebooks.  We all know that students do not finish all assignments at the same time.  But with Interactive Digital Notebooks, no worries if the student didn’t finish at school because students can access it at HOME and finish any slide for homework!  All the student needs is internet access (most public libraries have internet access so there’s no excuse!) and their Google account username and password to log on.

Come back soon for Part 2 in which I will . . .

  • show you some unique features of my Interactive Digital Notebooks
  • show you skills that can be practiced with Interactive Digital Notebooks
  • give you some tips for using Interactive Digital Notebooks
  • and some more bonuses and advantages of using Interactive Digital Notebooks

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    As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!

    Geometry on Google Slides®

    This Interactive Digital Notebooks for Google Slides are now available in my TpT Store!

    Click the link BELOW to see the Geometry Books!

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