Introducing Interactive Notebooks in Middle School Math
Middle School Math Teachers Sarah Stehman and Lauren Luchetti attended the Beyond the Math Curriculum virtual conference in the summer of 2022. The conference focused on student engagement in math, classroom management, and ways to build thinking for students. One of the tools that the math teachers learned about and have incorporated into their classes at Shipley is the interactive math notebook. We asked Mrs. Stehman about the conference and how interactive notebooks have made an impact in her classes.
Q: How have you put into practice in the classroom what you learned this summer? What’s been the impact on your students?
Stehman: At the beginning of the school year, my students got a blank notebook that will become their main resource and textbook for the school year, and we're building it throughout each lesson every day. Some days it looks like the traditional taking notes in your notebook. Other days, I might have some form of interactivity, so it's a flap that they lift up and then there's steps and instructions in there, or a handout that has steps for adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals. The notebooks allow for them to have quick guided notes and then a place for practice problems. I find that for my sixth graders, in particular, keeping track of your notes is very challenging. We don't use a textbook at all in the sixth grade curriculum, so the notebooks really replace that.
Q: How do the interactive notebooks support Shipley's unique approach to educational excellence?
Stehman: The interactive notebooks support Shipley's approach to educational excellence because they allow students to take ownership of their learning. Essentially, they're creating their own textbook and resource to use for notes. It also allows students, to add additional notes that maybe they wouldn't have recognized before or noticed that they needed to put an extra problem in. The notebooks also create deep engagement. A lot of my students, especially in the lower levels, like to doodle in things. The notebooks provide a space for them to do that in a way that's actually related to the math content—like coloring in a graph or a pie chart.
Q: Why is it important for Shipley teachers to have these kinds of professional development opportunities afforded to them?
Stehman: It's great to have these kind of professional development opportunities, because it allows me to improve my practice. It allows me to help the students reach the highest levels of achievement, and it allows for all of us to build a stronger community. While we're working in our notebooks, I can walk around the room, talk to the students, and offer help. I was able to learn and gain from that.