Instructional, Interactive Notebook

Starting the Year with Interactive Notebooks – How to Set it Up

In the last post, you read about the many items that will go into my INB at the beginning of the school year.  Now, I want to talk about actually setting it up.  Gathering the materials is a lot of work but you want to make sure you have a clear plan when you try this in the classroom.  Set up your own INB before the school year.  I know you might be thinking, “What a waste of a notebook!”  But, seriously, it isn’t.  If anything, use your INB in staff meetings!

This is a LONG post so I have broken it into two sections:

The Things You Need

How To Set It Up

How to Set it Up:

Here is how to set it up:

1.) Have the students trace the paper that they will need for the inside and outside of the notebook.  For the top and back and back-inside, I just laid the paper inside of the notebook, lined it with the black edge, and traced around it.  For the front-inside, I traced around the cover and cut it diagonally to make it a pocket.

Front: IMG_0157     Back:  IMG_0158     Front Inside:  IMG_0159     Back Inside:  IMG_0165

2.) The students will create a “Math About Me” page.  My students will do a front and back side, but I know a lot of people have only done it on the front.  I got the idea from Everybody is a Genius blog.  It is good to have them do this at the beginning, since will be “laminating” the notebooks by covering them with packing tape.

3.) Glue the paper onto the INB.  I glued it along one edge because I didn’t want it to look wrinkled underneath.  If you use the white Elmer’s glue, it will glue fast and stick there really well!  I did this so that it would hold onto the notebook as we begin taping.

4.) Use the packing tape to “laminate” the INB.  You do not need to cover the spine, just the area that you have added the paper.  If you look at the pictures above, I added enough tape to hold the front cover, as well as the inside cover.  I did the same with the back side.  You will notice that the notebook is really sturdy now!

5.) Print out all of the necessary paper that you will need to input into the notebook.  I will go through each of these handouts.

6.) Calendar – I downloaded my calendar from HERE.  I widened the margins and stretched out the calendar to fit the page.  Print out the calendar two to a page.  Fold the pages in half and cut along the line.  Staple all ten calendars together and insert into the pocket in your INB.


7. Table of Contents – Make sure to print on the front and back side.  The back side should be blank when folded.  When gluing, you only need an “anchor” tab so only glue along the edge of the back side.  This will be on Page 1.  I got my current Table of Contents from THIS blog.  I just modified it slightly.  You can download it HERE for free!



To be honest, I am not 100% positive that I will be keeping this Table of Contents.  It is really need and organized, but I don’t like the “left column, right column” thing.

8.) Syllabus & Grading Rubric – Definitely print out a half sheet version of your syllabus.  I wanted my students to be able to keep three pages from the syllabus, so I made it into a pamphlet to glued into their INB.  Also, the students will have a Grading Rubric specifically for their Grading Rubric.  The Syllabus will go on Page 2 and the Grading Rubric will be on Page 3.  Download Grading Rubric HERE.

IMG_0162 IMG_0163

9.) Table of Contents per Unit – This may seem redundant, but I wanted my students to have a Table of Contents per each unit.  These will be glued to the designated pages, which should be the beginning of each unit.  You can download it HERE.


10.) Glossary – The glossary, which consists of over 100 terms and definitions, will be glued onto the last page of the INB.  It will be folded into a pamphlet and glued in with an anchor tab along the blank page.  You can buy it HERE.


11.) Math Reference Sheet – I printed these out, two per page, on card stock, cut it out, and stapled it across the top.  I know it seems heavy, but if you glue it with Elmer’s glue, it should hold onto the back-inside of your INB.  By doing it this way, the students should be able to flip through the reference pages.  I would not suggest gluing these pages onto a regular paper.  It is too heavy and may not hold well.  Read about it HERE.


12.) Tabs – I LOVE my tabs!  I printed them out on card stock, cut them out, and glued them onto the designated pages.  I put glue on each side of the tab and glued it to the front and back side of the paper.  WARNING: Let the glue dry before closing the book or it might get stuck to other pages.  The template for the tabs is HERE.


Wow!  I know that it seems like a lot, but it is worth it!

Please let me know if you have any questions…Thanks!

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