Saturday, August 24, 2013

Notebook Love (RAVING review ahead)

Do you use notebooks in your class? I started last year with some simple math and science notebooks and my love for them got out of control. See, I HATE having binders with my kids because some of them, no matter what I do, will just shove papers every which way, anywhere they can. And I can't stand the mess. But notebooking solves that problem. Everything is glued right in there! Now, let me start this raving review by saying this, I do NOT use notebooks like most people, with a left side, right side and all that. I use them as needed and as I see fit. Now... onto the most amazing product you will ever find....

Do you "know" Nicole Shelby? I found her things a couple years ago when I was needing to get my act together for science. Well actually, I think I found her daily fix its first. Either way, whatever I found, I loved. LOVED folks. I have not bought a single thing from her that wasn't positively amazing. (Confession- I even have things of hers in my wishlist that I don't even teach... just in case SOMEDAY I teach that topic, I can just grab it up from her... that is how much I love her stuff.Also, my students last year knew her by name because I used so much of her stuff...and even my little thirdsters LOVE her.) So when she started posting her interactive notebook sets, I knew I needed them. And now... I have NO CLUE what I did before them. None.

Now, we haven't delved into the language notebook yet because we are still working on basic sentences. But that is a story for another day. But I already have pages tabbed off for when I get to the topics in the next few weeks... I just didn't want to wait to share about the amazingness that this entails.

The first thing I did was print every single page from the files. Yes... a lot of printing. But I can find things a lot better if they are printed and not on my computer. I organized it a little different than the file is saved. The file has all the images of each page first, organized by CCSS. Yes, she includes a picture of each and every single page that is included in the notebook. Then all the student pages are the second half. I put the image and the student page together to save me from having to flip a lot. I did this for both notebook sets. I hole punched everything and it is in a binder. The binder I swear is my lifeline! Now when I am writing plans I can flip through to find what I need and run my copies quickly. And I love that when possible, there are multiples on a page because we have limited copies!

The other thing I do is make a model page for each page my kids are going to do. This helps me focus my planning and show students what the final product should look like. And of course helps some of them when they need creative help with the coloring.

My class has done three different activities with their RLA notebooks so far and the kids really LOVE them. They don't even mind how much I make them write. The first two we did I told them what I wanted them to write so I could show them how it is done. The third one we worked through together. The students won't usually do the notes pages independently because I want to ensure they have the correct info. BUT, they are at the point that they are able to tell me what we should include. I ask prompting questions and if they don't include everything, I add my own info. Here are some student samples...

The first two we did were characters and connections. And whew, did I forget how slow they are at the beginning of the year?! So now, we cut, glue, and write. And then they can take the notebooks home to color or color when they finish an assignment. Some of my boys really don't care to color and would rather look at the globe on their free time, and I am sure not going to tell them they can't look at the globe! But I will say, the kids LOVE these notebooks. And they are REALLY proud of them. They are very careful to make sure the pages are dry before closing them, especially after seeing a couple kids who didn't listen to me when I said to wait and their pages got ruined. None of them want ruined pages. I love it. I love that they are taking pride in it. And I LOVE that this product exists. The week we did characters was when we read Boom Town. And I have to say, my kids NAILED it. They analyzed Amanda (from the story) like they had done this a million times before! I had the students make a foldable from a different product (review of THAT one coming soon because that is equally amazing) where the students told me Amanda's traits, her motivations and how they changed from beginning-middle-end, and her feelings and how they changed from beginning-middle-end. I was AMAZED. And they did really well on their test question that was asking about how Amanda changed throughout the story. Call me proud!

If you didn't know Nicole Shelby before now, you were missing out. RUN to her store and see why I love everything she makes. (And no, I wasn't asked to post about this... I just truly love her products so much I had to tell anyone that would listen besides my 8 year olds.)


  1. I just picked up both of these notebooks during the sale for my class. I cannot wait to use them this year!

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

  2. I also just purchased both of these notebooks!! I couldn't be any happier..I think is by far the best purhase I have ever made on TPT!!! :)

    Teaching in Paradise

  3. I purchased those too! So glad to read your post!


  4. I bought both too and am so excited to use them with my kiddos this year! And I'm old school so I'll print and organize them into a binder too!
    One Happy Teacher

  5. I LOVE them as well! Such GREAT notebooks! I can't wait to see the notebooks all filled out at the end of the year!

    :) Carmen

  6. What a great post! The pictures of your students' work are great! I'm just getting my feet wet with notebooking and hoping that my students get faster at it so we don't spend all of our time cutting a gluing!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  7. I have both of these products and I can't wait to use them! Thanks for posting how you organize and use this with your class :)

    Mindful Rambles

  8. I couldn't agree more about Nicole's products! She was my mentor teacher when we worked together at the same lucky am I? Her products are so thorough. I love that other people appreciate her talent as much as me!


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