1/27/2015 17 Comments
Grading Math Notebooks
I have tried doing a section for warm-ups in the past, but ended up switching to printed paper warm-ups. I found that it was worth printing them, because the kids took it so much more seriously. They tended to just give up and wait instead of trying if they knew that the warm-up would not be collected right away.
I think it's so important to set the stage and show that the notebook is a valuable resource and should be well structured, well maintained, and well used as a reference.
On the first or second day, take time to walk students through the setup. It can be a 3 subject notebook where they label the sections, or it can be a regular notebook that they separate. I like to hand out the firm, clear post-it tabs. They can stick these in the sections, then easily move them around as one section grows larger than the others. This prevents wasted pages when one section does not get filled up.
Be sure that students label the outside with their names and class periods, and the inside with the section names. I do not require dates.
Be clear from day one that these will be graded. Students need to know that you take the notes seriously.
After carting 150 notebooks home in enormous plastic bins every quarter as report card time approached, I made a breakthrough. I decided to do notebook checks DURING A TEST. This was such a simple change that made all the difference.
It really does not matter if the notebook check comes two weeks before the end of the quarter, so I just choose the unit test that is closest to the end of the grading period. This spreads out the checking dates for different classes. I just have students leave the closed notebook right under the desk and I walk around and grab each one and scan through it while they quietly take their tests.
This way, students never have to part with their notebook when they may need it, and I never have to spend time outside of school with the grading process.
I assign vocabulary for each lesson BEFORE any instruction. This becomes a standard part of homework. I require the term, definition, and an example. The example can be a picture, a sample problem, or a sentence. Students make different choices for this depending on the type of word.
Read about teaching vocabulary using root words here.
During any direct instruction, I expect students to take notes. They must record the examples and other notes that I give. Later during practice for a lesson (or even a week later), I say "check your notes" when they ask certain questions. Middle and High School students really need reminders to use their notebook as their first resource. I try to train them to reference it whenever they get stuck.
Homework is checked daily, so although it lives in the notebook, it is not part of the notebook checks. See my post on grading homework for details.
I give a total of fifty points for the notebook each quarter. I let students know that this is a way to get points for doing what they are supposed to be doing. It can either boost the grade at the end of the quarter or hurt the grade. This really does keep them pretty motivated. I keep a list of each section of notes that should be present in the notebook and quickly flip through to verify that the notes are there. After looking at the first three notebooks, the rest usually take only about two minutes per notebook. I can quickly tell if something is missing.
If a section of notes is missing due to absence, I jot down what is needed and subtract two points. I allow that student to bring it to me any time before X date to show me that they worked with a friend to make up the notes for the lesson. (I know this is generous, but when students miss a day, they tend to get behind and make up the homework while neglecting the notes. I prefer that they go back and look over the lesson they missed and add these notes.) If they take the time to fix it up and come show me, I erase the old grade and add back the missing points.
As far as vocabulary, each student is generally either conscientious about doing it, or is missing almost all of it. I subtract points for this accordingly, and give lectures about how this affects the grade. We talk about shaping up for the next quarter!
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7/27/2015 05:34:05 am
What else do you grade? I tend to grade everything because when I didn't students wouldn't participate unless it was for points. I'm trying to make my grading less work for me and more useful form them.
7/27/2015 09:43:49 am
5/5/2016 07:46:11 am
Thanks so much for the free resources! I have used your inquiry projects and doodle notes. I have a question about how you use notebooks. I would like to use them next year, but cannot decide if I should require a certain type, or just whatever a student prefers. I know a lot of people use composition notebooks, but many of my students do not like those because of smaller page sizes, wide rule, etc. Do you have any recommendations?
5/5/2016 03:15:56 pm
5/5/2016 03:53:37 pm
Thank you for your reply. This is my first year teaching and I have given a lot of guided notes and graphic organizers that the kids will complete in class but then throw away or stuff in their backpacks. I really want to try notebooks next year and make it part of their grade. My older students like the idea and think they would refer to their notes if they were in one place.
4/11/2017 12:59:25 pm
This is awesome. Have you tried notebook quizzes? I really liked them when I used them. I found that the act of walking around and checking notebooks still took a little time. Instead I tried a small quiz that would ask questions about what was in their notebook.
4/12/2017 09:29:54 am
Thanks for the good ideas! My better students see the benefit of their INB, but others are so careless that their notebook is not of much benefit. It has been a frustration on that side, and the fact that students who are absent do not bother to get the notes when they return. However, notebook quizzes would have helped that situation.
4/13/2017 07:45:38 pm
3/24/2018 02:52:29 pm
I love this idea of the notebook quiz. I've been teaching 26 years and still find wonderful ideas that help save time or otherwise improve things for my students and myself.
3/25/2018 10:00:28 am
That is so wonderful to hear! Thanks so much, Cyndi!
5/4/2018 11:26:10 pm
For anyone using INB's, about how much class time does it take for students to cut and paste the various cutouts into their book. I have tried this with a grade 6 class and ended up waiting until students were done to actually teach what was on the notes given. Not to mention the left over paper in the desks or on the floor. It was such a headache! However I do like the idea of INB's for quick reference and a alternative to writing so much.
6/27/2018 07:43:43 pm
When using interactive notebooks, I have found that using a paper cutter and rectangular shapes to work fastest. I hand them out pre-cut and then the kids just paste them in. When the kids are cutting, I have little wastebaskets—one per group, and then kids use these to gather the scraps and then toss in the recycle bin. I also have little bins that have scissors, tape, glue, etc. Again—one bin per group. Worked very well last year.
7/1/2018 06:22:43 pm
Nicole I tried to cut what I could but to be honest as the year went on I had less time to cut fancy foldables. So, many times I just cut the page in half or thirds w/ a paper cutter and we glued or taped it in our composition book. If your using a spiral NB then you don't even have to cut the page. When I don't have time to cut the page in half I just find a way to fold it to make it fit. The kids were fine and I was less stressed. Hope this helps.
7/18/2019 04:22:08 pm
Thinking about starting a notebook grade. Do you have a rubric you use of some sort?
7/24/2019 02:22:52 pm
8/16/2019 03:23:14 pm
I love this idea of grading notebooks during a test, but logistically, how did you record their notebook scores? Did you carry a clipboard? And if so, what did you do with the clipboard while you were thumbing through the notebook? I'm such a klutz, I'm afraid that I would be dropping things and disrupting the test!
8/23/2019 10:59:14 am
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