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I Switched to Interactive Binders

In my last post I talked about why I ditched interactive notebooks. Today I’d like to talk about why I switched to interactive binders and how I used them.

As I said in the last post, I loved the idea of interactive notebooks. So even though the actual notebooks didn’t work for me and my students, I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea.

I have always had my students keep an organized 3-ring binder. I’d give them colorful sticky tabs to divide all the new units (they loved it when I handed these out!) and they were able to utilize them effectively for the most part. It occurred to me that maybe I could combine my binders with the idea of an interactive notebook.

So Interactive Binders were born!

How I Use Interactive Binders in Class

I incorporated many of the same interactive notebook ideas into my binders. We had a Table of Contents (ToC), we numbered all of the ITEMS (not pages) and there were lots of opportunities for interactivity. The difference was that we weren’t spending time cutting and taping our materials. The students would simply pick up their hole-punched materials when they walked in.

Interactive BInder Table of Contents

Our Table of Contents … BIN stands for BInder Item Number

As a class warm-up, I put a Powerpoint slide on my Smartboard with instructions for the students to place the work in their binders with the ToC title, date, and BIN, or Binder Item Number. Kids would come in, pick up their materials, sit down and start filling out their Table of Contents with the information on the board. Since we were inserting pages as we went along I had few to no issues of students numbering items incorrectly. That in itself was a major improvement over the notebooks!

Switching to interactive binders solved all of the problems I had encountered with the notebooks. We were still able to do all of the interactive types of activities that we had done with notebooks. For example, if I wanted students to do some kind of ouput work I just made sure there was a blank page facing them on the left. If we did a foldable, they just glued it to piece of paper and inserted it that way.

I also kept a Master Binder. This was great for students who were absent and also helped some others keep their binders more organized.  When it was getting close to the time that I would grade their binders, many kids used mine to make sure theirs were up to date and labeled correctly.

I graded the binders once per marking period. I had a separate grading category for them in our school grading system … they counted for 15% of their grade. It wasn’t as hard to grade them as you might think … I have an excellent rubric for them and I would only collect one class at a time so that I wasn’t overwhelmed. Since I couldn’t take all of those binders home with me, it meant spending some time after school, but I found that once I got into the flow of the rubric the grading went pretty quickly.

I’ve added a product in my (growing) Teachers Pay Teachers store about how to get started with Interactive Binders. It’s quickly becoming one of my best sellers! Just click the image below to check it out in my store.

Interactive BInders - Alternative to Interactive Notebooks

The product contains a Powerpoint that you can use with students to help them set up their binders, the grading rubric, and the Table of Contents form. I’ve also included detailed teacher suggestions to help you get started.

Do you have an alternative to interactive notebooks? Share with us!

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