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Interactive STEM Notebooks

The Case for Science and STEM Notebooks

By September 13th, 2022No Comments

Picture this: You’ve got 30 students. Some struggle with content, some struggle with organization and others struggle with responsibility.  Sound familiar?  For most of us, it resonates well.  So how do we get everyone on the same page at the same time and move in a forward direction?  Enter Interactive STEM notebooks

I’m not guaranteeing that STEM notebooks will solve all of your problems, but they will certainly help (both you and your students)!  STEM notebooks are excellent tools for a number of different reasons.  Here are my top 5:

They Teach Documentation

Interactive STEM notebooks teach students the importance of documenting their work.  Many famous STEM people in history have used them to collect their ideas and document their work.  Some of note who have used their notebooks to record their research, observations, and discoveries are Jane Goodall, Charles Darwin, and Srinivasa Ramanujan.  Students should be no different in working towards emulating the way that real scientists and engineers work in industry.

They Help Organize (both you and them)

Using even a couple select templates helps kids tremendously.   I was (and still am) a huge fan of composition books because they could really take a beating and still hold together.  I organized mine by unit and had my kids use a divider (copied onto cardstock) to separate each one.  We glued a section divider on the front of the next right side page and a Table of Contents page on the back of it.  That way they could quickly flip to that section and if the kids had trouble organizing the last unit, they’d get a fresh start.  Also, if you teach multiple sections of STEM/Science, you can further organize by reinforcing the spine with colored duct tape.  That way, if a student lost their notebook, I knew exactly which class it belonged to.

They Support All Learners

I love the way that STEM notebooks allow and support differentiation.  The first time other students noticed me adding other resources to help a struggling student, they decided they wanted those pages too.  After a discussion about carefully choosing what is best to help YOU learn (and how that might be different than what another student needs in order to learn), I ended up furnishing additional pages to more students.  Eventually, my students became very good curators of what they needed to be successful with the content.  This goes both ways too as students could then request or create more advanced materials for their notebooks as well.

They Strengthen Communication

Interactive STEM Notebooks improved my students’ communication folds ten-fold.  At the beginning of the year, students struggled with how to handle their notebooks and what content should go in.  They wrote the bare minimum.  As we progressed through the year, students realized that this powerful tool helped to keep all of the important information in one place, so if it is important, it goes in the notebook.  Plus, when students are called on in class, they have a living document to support their response and help them articulate their answers and discussion points.

They Empower Students

Overall, using Interactive STEM notebooks helped my students be more self-confident in subject matter, but also in themselves.  They took great pride and ownership in their notebooks and excelled at their willingness to show a classroom visitor their notebook and explain what we were working on.

Interactive STEM notebooks are a worthwhile addition to just about any STEM classroom (and psst, they can be easily adapted for other subjects as well).

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