INBs are something I know well — something that work for students. So I decided to take what I had available and, as Sam would say, turn what I DON'T know into what I DO know. Love those Calculus mottos.
So I rebuilt my version of the exponential functions unit in terms of INBs. But that meant, I would have to introduce INBs.
As one girl said, "New marking period, new me!" The kids just went with it and really took to it.
Here is what I did.
ON EACH GROUP TABLE: I placed a sample INB that began with a single-sheet Table of Contents (p. 1), an Exponential Functions pocket page (p. 3), and had pages numbered through page 7. There were TOC sheets and glue sticks on the table.
SMART BOARD: on the projector, I put a countdown timer (set for 15 minutes) and an agenda slide that said,
- New seats!
- Choose a notebook! Good colors still available!
- Make your notebook look like the sample notebook on your table
As soon as the bell rang, I hit Start on the timer, which counted down like a bomb in a James Bond movie.
Alfred Hitchcock once said, if you want to create suspense, place a ticking time bomb under a card table at which four people are playing bridge. This seemed like good advice for introducing INBs to my students.
I think because it was a familiar, group work task approach to an unfamiliar problem, all the kids simply went went with it. "How did you make the pocket? Do you fold it this way? Where does the table of contents go? What does 'TOC' mean? What goes on page 5?" And so on and so on.
I circulated, taking attendance and making notes about participation. When students would ask me a question about how to do something, I would ask them first, "Is this a group question?" If not, they knew what was going to happen. If it was, I was happy to help them get unstuck.
Then came the acid test: the actual note-taking.
I was concerned, but they were riveted. They felt a lot more ownership over their own learning process.
There are still plenty of groupworthy tasks coming up, but at least now they have a container for their notes and reflection process.
I'm going to do a "Five Things" reflection (trace your hand on a RHS page and write down five important things from the day's lesson or group work) and notes for a "Four Summary Statements" poster, but I finally feel like I have a framework to help kids organize their learning.
I've even created a web site with links to photos of my master INB in case they miss class and need to copy the notes. Here's a link to the Box.com photo files, along with a picture of page 5:
We only got through half as much as I wanted us to get through, but they were amazed at how many notes we had in such a small and convenient space.
It feels good to be back!