You may have been using digital interactive biology notebooks in your classroom before the pandemic hit. Or maybe you’ve been using the paper version of interactive notebooks and would like to use something similar for distance learning. (Scroll down to see the FREE planning guide if you’d like to DIY!)
If you’ve suddenly had to move your teaching online, you might be wondering how you can get the engagement of an interactive notebook during remote teaching or distance learning. Is it even possible?
I’m here to tell you it is! Enter the digital interactive notebook!
Digital Interactive Biology Notebooks
These digital interactive notebooks, or DINs, can be set up to look just like a paper notebook. There are tons of advantages to using these, so if you’ve been forced into online teaching, please don’t feel like your kids are missing out on anything, at least as far as the notebooks go.
For example, if you’ve been using paper notebooks, then you probably know all too well how much work they involve on the backend. Making all the copies and planning exactly how they’re going to look in the notebooks takes time, especially if you’re keeping a master notebook as I did.
Not to mention, the cutting and taping or gluing. When I started using interactive notebooks with my freshmen I assumed that they’d know how to cut things out. You know what happens when you assume! What I timed out as taking 5 minutes usually took more like 10 – 15. When you only have 42-minute class periods, that adds up to a lot of time wasted. They seemed to think of this task like it was social hour. No matter what I did, I could never get them all at the same point at the same time.
And of course, when you are cutting paper you have scraps. Everywhere. I swear that my floor was never totally scrap-free. I felt so bad about the scraps that I started bringing donuts in for the custodial staff!
Even with all of these problems, I recognized the value of interactive notebooks for engagement and higher-level thinking. I really hated to get rid of them. Click to read my post about what I switched to before I went digital. I had already been using chrome books for blended learning and in-class flipped lessons. So it was an easy stretch for me to move into digital notebooks.
Advantages of Digital Notebooks
First of all, THERE’S NO PAPER! Sorry if I seem overly excited, but it felt so freeing to not worry about making copies and not having those darned paper scraps all over the place.
No paper means no time wasted in cutting things out. What used to take 10 minutes for the kids to get going was cut down to about 3 minutes, which is how long it took for them to grab their chrome books out of the cart and log into Google Classroom.
I was going through uncountable numbers of tape rolls and glue sticks with paper notebooks. Though I still occasionally did activities where those were needed, I was using so much less than before.
Most DINs are created in Google Slides. This is what allows them to be interactive. Students are asked to do different tasks, such as drag and drop, sorting, drawing, labeling, highlighting, and short answer questions. I think about the only thing you can’t do in a DIN is put Foldables in it. But even with that said you can find digital templates online that look like some of the Foldables!
If you’d like to create your own DINs, it’s really not that hard. There are plenty of free and paid templates online to get you started. And they don’t have to have a ton of slides, either … start out with 3 or 4 activities for a specific topic, like sorting some vocabulary or labeling diagrams.
In fact, I’ve put together a free planning guide for digital interactive notebooks. The template is digital so you can type directly in it or print it out to write by hand. There are also suggestions and ideas for using the guide.Click here to grab your copy of my Planning Guide!
If you try making your own digital notebook I’d love to see it! Email me with a link … or post a pic in the comments below.