Scaffolding Using Interactive Math Notebooks

scaffolding learning with interactive notebooks

When I was in school, I despised  Math. My least favorite part was taking the notes. It was so boring! To my surprise, when I became a 5th grade teacher I ended up really enjoying teaching Math. It was challenging at first to find ways to make it interesting for students. The biggest challenge came from the fact that when I was in school we were taught the procedural and never really had any conceptual understanding of what we were learning. It’s my opinion that our students need both procedural and conceptual learning in Math

Scaffolding is so important in every subject. Students need to be set up for success and given tools to eventually perform on their own. Interactive notebooks helped me achieve this in my classroom. I didn’t provide students with any old INB, I created pages that were pre-scaffolded with examples and organizers that would eventually lead them into doing the task on their own. I’ve used this strategy in reading, math, writing, social studies, and science.

My #1 goal is to prepare resources so that my students will have the tools they need to succeed on their own.

Create pieces that lead students in the right direction.

Don’t just give students already completed interactive notebook pages. There is no scaffolding in doing this. In my reading interactive notebooks, I give students mentor text, and lead them into investigating the standard themselves. This is much more meaningful than just giving them notes to color, and it makes it a lot easier to transition to practicing on their own.

interactive reading notebook

Find interactive reading notebooks for grades 4-6 here.

Model using your own notebook to succeed in solving a problem.

I always have my own notebook so that I can model how to use this tool. I use my notebook to scaffold every practice we complete on this standard. I also use it in small group to promote using resources when you need help.

Here are some examples of my teacher notebooks – bright, easy to read, and organized by standard.
interactive reading notebook

Find interactive reading notebooks for grades 4-6 here.

Find interactive math notebooks for grades 3-5 here.

Start where students are at.

If students don’t have the basic building blocks of a skill that they were supposed to learn a year or two ago, your interactive notes for today’s lesson isn’t going to get you far. Provide those notes, but differentiate for students by providing them scaffolded notes for the beginning skills. Filling in gaps can make a world of difference – even if you don’t necessarily get them completely caught up.

A few Basic INB tips

  • Make sure that the interactive notebook pages are meaningful. If they’re not scaffolding the learning, ask yourself they ARE doing. Don’t waste time just because they look pretty in the end.
  • Spend time setting up student notebooks. Review the rubric, procedures, and expectations with the students.
  • Tell the students in advance how often you are going to collect and grade the notebooks, and be consistent.
  • If students are absent, they know that their first responsibility of the day is to get the notes and work on their notebook. I keep my notes and any handouts at an empty table with scissors, glue, and pencils, so that they can go directly there and complete the notes they missed.
  • Use content vocabulary inside the notebook. Have students write about every Math concept they learn and every problem they complete!
  • Use the notebooks every day. When my students practice a standard, they are required to use their table of contents to locate their notes on that standard and have it on their desk. I hand out prize tickets to students I see who are referring back to their notes while completing practice problems.
  •  Interactive notebooks are a wonderful tool for students with special needs, but they may need modifications such as pre-cut pieces or more time to complete.

Interactive notebooks for 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade