Last year I rattled through some frequently asked questions.

People point to me as a user of interactive notebooks. I would not call my notebooks interactive in the same category as what the internet considers an interactive notebook. If you're looking for foldables, tables of contents, and scripted notebook pages, please go check out Sarah Hagan. She even had a whole day celebrating her.

Anyway, this is what I do to get students to do stuff. Time for bullet points!


Here's some pictures. I'll do a little explaining after.


  • composition books preferred, hold up better over time
  • students can keep them in the room, I use a 30 qt. tub for each class
  • colored duct tape identifies the class period
  • a manilla folder fragment stapled to the back holds old tests
  • students track their SBG scores in the front, it's not a table of contents


  • students use it every day, no questions
  • all classwork and notes are contained in the book
  • from time to time work is pre-typed and handed out on 1/3 or 1/2 sheets
  • students do a lot of work copied from the board
  • students don't have homework, they work when they are in class
  • students can use their books on tests, tests are designed to be about thinking, not parroting, we don't do review days
  • class time is intended to provide as much student time as possible, stop talking
  • books are checked every 3 weeks for updated SBG charts and cleanliness
  • students can put things wherever they want
  • assignments are graded a day or so after completion, I walk around with a clipboard while students are working on something newer
  • it takes time to cut things out and glue, I mean, just accept it
  • I never take them home
  • kids forget them, it happens, usually not a chronic issue

Critics of the notebook thing dislike the time required for the cutting, taping, gluing, and preparation. They'd prefer a binder full of daily worksheets or something. Mine don't suffer those issues. I don't find myself spending an inordinate amount of time waiting on kids to do stuff. Of course, I've set up class to be for them. You don't see me talking much. Assignments are short and sweet so they can do all the cutting and still accomplish something. I'm allergic to full page handouts. Over time it's just so much paper. That volume of copying is just unnecessary to me. Same with packets. Yuck. One year I'm going to count how little I copy as proof.

After five years with these things I'd never do binders or folders, ever. Student productivity is at ridiculous levels since I made it a requirement.

AuthorJonathan Claydon