1. Use scrap paper to make tabs to organize your notebooks. You can do this by strand or by standard.
I honestly don’t know if my students could survive without notebook tabs in their interactive notebooks. I used to buy fancy ones at Staples until I realized that we could just reuse the scraps left over from the cut notebook pages. Just cut a rectangle, fold it, label close to the fold, and glue both interior sides. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
2. Use interactive notebook templates for the first few pages of the notes, then do all the practice problems separately.
My rule of thumb is 2-4 pages per standard. This gives students enough space to have vocabulary and examples. We do our practice problems the “old fashion” way- just written in our notebooks. These practice problems usually come from our textbook, workbook pages, or are modeled after the problems on the assessment.
3. Don’t print extras. Keep a place in your classroom for absent students, and put their name on the pages they missed.
I used to print about 5 extra sets just in case. Now I print enough for each students + 1 for me. If students make a mistake, they find a way to fix it. I’ve become a much less nicer teacher after copy limits were imposed on us.
4. Alternate the days and subjects for interactive notebooks.
Trust me, everyone’s going to get sick of them if you do them every day in every subject. Use them sparingly and that keeps them special and the amount of paper used low. Below is one 30 minute mini-lesson for Math. I do one of these each week (sometimes two weeks if it’s a big standard that we need lots of practice on!). We spend the rest of our time working in centers, small groups, and even project-based learning. Mix it up and keep it interesting!
5. Use library books as mentor text instead of printing passages.
Not only is it hard to find the right passages to print, it is such a huge use of paper! Go take a look at my lists of awesome mentor text for 4th-6th grade and pick a few up at your library. Not only will you save paper, but you’ll get your students’ attention with these books!
Studies have shown using content at lower reading levels for higher level comprehension is highly effective!
Looking for more information on starting interactive notebooks in your classroom? View all of my blog posts on interactive notebooks here!