If you read my previous post regarding Pinterest in the classroom, you know that when I started in my new classroom last year, I found that my students were severely lacking the necessary supplies needed to learn. Most had no pencils to write with (which in a math classroom is a sin!), and many didn’t have one consistent place to take and keep notes. This was creating chaos in the classroom, and making it impossible for students to learn. Through a Donors Choose grant, I received composition notebooks, pens, pencils, scissors, and glue. With this, I provided students with everything they needed and had them create their own interactive math notebooks.
For any teachers dealing with similar issues, or contemplating notebooks similar to what I did, here is my assessment of what worked and what didn’t so you can learn from me and improve you own system (using your typical classroom grading system).
The Interactive Math Notebooks – A
Each student received a composition notebook to use as their personal math notebook. They were allowed to decorate the cover and front page to show off their individual style. For each class, I kept a crate of all the notebooks so that students could not take them home and lose them. I assigned two students to pass out and collect notebooks at the beginning and end of each class (while other students were doing the warm-up). Overall, very few notebooks were lost, which meant every student had a place to take notes each class period. Most students took pride in their notebooks and kept them neat and well organized. Many students didn’t (you know those students – the ones who couldn’t organize their way out of a paper bag), but at least all of their notes were in one place, and I provided the best model I could for them to learn to be more organized. The students really enjoyed making the foldables and other interactive pieces of the notebooks (more on that in future blogs). And having everything in one place made grading easier for me and gave the students better grades (especially for those unorganized students who always lost their work before turning it in).
I started with putting Z’s on all my pencils (I found those were easily scratched off). I put thirty-five pencils in the pencil holder (bought in the Target dollar section), assigned a responsible student to pass them out and collect them. They were gone within the week. So then I bought a Styrofoam block, put thirty-two holes in it (my largest class size), and filled each hole with a pencil. This way I could visually see when I was missing pencils. This became so time intensive and argumentative with students (“No, this is my pencil. I swear.”), and I still lost all of my pencils in three weeks. I am still looking for a good system to give out pencils to students who are missing them without spending my whole paycheck on pencils. I pinned some new ideas on Pinterest – hopefully I’ll have more success to share.
Pens – see pencils
Scissors / Glue / Tape – B
Since these supplies were only used selectively, I was able to keep mostly all of these supplies (minus cheap glue sticks that got used up quickly – hence why I moved to using tape instead). I only had so many scissors, so students had to share, and I was very careful about making sure I had all of them back before the class could leave. Glue sticks I was less successful with.
I’m going to take everything I’ve done and learned, and put it into this year’s notebooks. Hopefully I’ll have positive news to share going forward!