Do you use interactive notebooks for grammar lessons? I had luck with middle school students and interactive notebooks.
When I heard about interactive notebooks a few years ago, I immediately thought, fad. I dismissed them as the latest, in a long line of concepts in education that will change students! but disappear after a few years.
I was very wrong. Not only have I used interactive notebooks with my students, but I use them with my own children. Grammar can come alive with interactive notebooks, and as someone who loves to teach grammar, I want to reach as many students as possible.
The versatility never ends: color-coding pages, using tabs, creating a table of contents. I have found that not only do students understand the concepts, but they also learn important soft skills.
As I use these versatile tools, teachers ask me questions about them. As I experiment and create and learn, I have developed these tips for using interactive notebooks.
My largest mistake with interactive notebooks was expecting perfection and a wonderful notebook immediately. I backed up (I honestly think I overwhelmed my students), and began with a basic interactive notebook.
As I started with small definitions and an overview of grammar terms, I found what worked for my classes. We use glue sticks, not liquid glue. I cut large chunks of paper off the edges of printed pieces so that I am giving students trimmed down pieces. I provide direct instruction as students then manipulate their pieces.
Do what a worksheet cannot
Worksheets help students, but interactive notebooks can provide students with visuals that a worksheet cannot. My favorite? Blocks.
Grammar is the building blocks of language. Provide this metaphor for students. You are providing the foundation of grammar lessons with basic definitions. Together, you are understanding the language that students should be able to manipulate in their writing and speaking. (They should also understand that speakers and writers will try to manipulate them!)
I also create varying visually appealing interactive pieces for the notebook because grammar can be fun. Once students understand grammar on a deeper level, like with a metaphor, they will remember the terms.
Use age-appropriate materials
I do teach in a state that uses the common core. While I understand that grade leveled standards are complex, I base my activities off what I am expected to teach. For instance, when I use interactive notebooks for fifth and sixth grades, I review parts of speech and parts of a sentence with students, and then we work on choosing types of conjunctions. For seventh and eighth grades, we review verbal phrases and clauses, and then we work on punctuating them correctly.
Middler schoolers are a tough balance: they still enjoy fun activities, but they disdain babyish tools.
Grammar is a tough subject to teach – students too often come with preconceived hatred. Changing their opinions and making grammar part of life, an interesting subject can be done! Sometimes it takes a bit of inspiration, and interactive notebooks do just that. Start small, think of what visuals will help your students, and use age-appropriate tools. And! Please leave a comment below with extra questions that I missed in this post.