Sunday, October 30, 2016

Interactive Digital Reader's Notebooks

It has been some time since I've blogged.  I've been quite busy teaching curious 5th graders and working towards a new certification in Library Media!  Returning back to the upper elementary classroom, I decided to try a few things - digital notebooks and personalized.  I recently attended EdCamp Seacoast and shared my adventures with Interactive Digital Notebooks.  So far.  I have been using them in Science, Reading and Writing.  I have actually tweaked the Digital Reader's Notebooks multiple times, and just revised it again (for future use).

At first, I had lofty intentions for my 5th graders to use Goodreads as their notebooks.  I strongly believe in authentic purpose and thought that Goodreads would provide this for them; giving them a space where people actually talk about books all of the time!  However, to check in on what the children are doing and provide them with feedback was a logistical nightmare.  There are a lot of good features in Goodreads and I use it personally.  However, it was difficult to find what the children were writing about their reading each day.

So, I then turned to Google Docs for an Interactive Digital Reader's Notebook.  This didn't work out quite so well either.  For a Writer's Notebook and Science Notebook, Google Docs has been working out pretty well.  However, to easily add graphic organizers, find what students are currently working on, providing feedback helping them be organized, and fostering independence it didn't work out quite as well for reading.

I was frustrated and about to give up on the whole digital aspect of interactive reader's notebooks.  But first, I turned to Pinterest.  I was in luck because there were a few pins about Interactive Digital Notebooks.  Mostly for Science and Social Studies, but I was able to modify the concept to a successful Interactive Digital Reader's Notebook.  The notebooks that I found on Pinterest were created in Google Slides.  Why hadn't I thought of that!?!  Google slides let me create a notebook for students that has clearly outlined expectations.  It also makes it easier for students to independently add, duplicate, and modify pages.  And it makes it easy to add graphic organizers or pages that have mini-lesson artifacts that they can utilize while they jot.  Here is what I've come up with, and this is my most recent revision that I would definitely use for other units and other grade levels.


One section that the original notebook has (and that I've since removed from this most recent revision) in an elaborate jot tracking form.  This pages is where I assess my students' elaborate jots and record goals that we develop as we confer.  Here's what I realized as I conferred with them.  I don't need a separate section for this!  I can just insert a comment (like I do with their Writer's Notebooks) on the page of their next jot.  This will help keep the goal in mind as they jot, and decrease the need for them to flip between pages (slides) which many of them forget to do.  Many of them are already finding the goal comments helpful!

A couple of important things to keep in mind about Interactive Digital Reader's Notebooks (or any of that matter):

  • you can push them out to students in Google Classroom and have a copy made for each of them
  • doing this means it is more helpful to have the unit planned in advance and know what resources you are going to include in the notebook otherwise you'll be updating one notebook at a time (been there)
  • you may need to teach them a few things like how to insert text boxes or duplicate pages so that they can reuse graphic organizers
  • digital is a preferred method of writing for students
  • learning how to manipulate and collaborate in a notebook is an important skill that they need to learn for future employment
A couple of things that I have given some thought to about Interactive Digital Reader's Notebooks:
  • Whether I would use this with younger grades.  Yes, most likely.  Even Kindergarten because they can voice type.
  • One notebook for the year or one per unit.  I used to have a new notebook for each unit when I used paper notebooks and it was a great way to keep units organized and see growth over the course of a unit.
  • Other ways to make it more collaborative.  Currently, it's just between me and the students.  And that is really more because I had a few failures before I stumbled upon this gem (I'm really proud of where my failures brought me). I would definitely have students share their notebooks with their reading partners and provide each other with feedback.
I have more to share about the Digital Writer's Notebooks and Science Notebooks that we have been using, and will do so in separate posts!  I'd love to hear how you've used Digital Notebooks in Reading, what you are finding successful and lessons you've learned.  Please share in the comments below.