Interactive Science Notebooks

General Resources

Science Notebooks K-12 - This site offers the basic information about using notebooks in the science classroom along with a wealth of resources to help you make the most of them, such as a database of student work samples and lots of tips in the Frequently Asked Questions area. ISNs - Check out this website for samples of student worksheets that have been formatted to use with ISNs.

Interactive Notebooks - This site provides information and resources related to using interactive student notebooks in science as well as for other subjects, such as language arts, social studies, and math. 

Vocabulary Strategies - A great collection of samples that will help you find new ideas to teach and reinforce vocabulary from your lessons.

Taking the ISN Plunge - Visit this site to learn more about implementing interactive notebooks!  Lots of great tips and tricks! 

NSTA Interactive Notebook Blog - Take a few moments to check out this blog for more ideas to help you make the most of ISNs in your classroom.

Need more ideas?  Check out ISNs on Pinterest!

Notebook Helpers

Worksheet Resources
Worksheet Works - One of my favorite resources for making graphic organizers, charts, and graphs.  Easy to use and free!
Teach-nology - Worksheet Generator - A collection of templates you can customize for your class activities. 
Science Graphic Organizers - A collection of organizers on a variety of science topics/concepts.
Holt Editable Graphic Organizers - Choose your template and edit as needed for your lesson/activity.

Teacher Vision - Science Organizers - Offers 10 ready-to-use organizers for science lessons

Examples from my classroom:
Invertebrate Organizer - Students use this organizer to list the importance of each type of invertebrate
SpongeBob vs. Sponges - Venn Diagram for use with a lesson on sea sponges; students compare and contrast SpongeBob with real sponges
NOTE:  SpongeBob SquarePants and all related characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

Math & Science Foldables - An assortment of foldables (and graphic organizers) for math and science.
Foldables in Science - A collection of the best resources for finding foldables for your science program.
Dinah Zike Foldables - The best spot to find examples of foldables for every subject and grade level.  Browse her site for free examples and strategies for making the most of foldables in your classroom. 

Writing Prompts
Teacher's Domain Writing Prompts - This site provides video clips and writing prompts on a variety of science concepts.
RAFT Prompt Builder - Build your own writing prompt using their easy-to-use format. 
Prompts for Journal Reflections - A list of ready-to-use prompts that can be adapted to almost any topic.
eThemes Writing & Journals - A collection of links with strategies and other resources to help your students become better writers.

My Favorite Books:
Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks by Kellie Marcarelli
Notebook Foldables for Spirals, Binders, & Composition Books by Dinah Zike
Big Book of Science by Dinah Zike
3D Graphic Organizers by Daniel J. Barnekow

Our Tips & Tricks

Powerpoint - Introduction to ISNs  - This is the presentation I use at the beginning of the year to introduce ISNs to my students.

ISN Cover Pages - Science or CSI - Students cut this page down and use it as a cover for their ISN.  They are allowed to decorate it with any science-related items

Formatting Worksheets

(1) Four Corners - For regular worksheets (glued on all 4 corners or top) I set up my worksheets with a 1” margin on the left side and bottom as well as a 0.5” margin at the top and on the right side.  For existing worksheets (or ones that already fill a page), I change the copy ratio to 90% on the school copier to shrink the pages to fit on the notebook pages.          

(2) Fold-A-Flap Pages - To fit them on a notebook page, I create a “fold-a-flap” page by setting up my worksheets with a 1” margin on the left side and a 0.5” margin at the top and then cut off the bottom of the page.  Students fold the left side back to create a flap and then glue it to the correct page.  This type of format allows me to use the 2-sided worksheet plus leaves room for more items/extra space under the worksheet.  Click here for a gude to create the "Fold-A-Flap" pages in Word.

Also available ... Gluing Guidelines - I display this page on my board and use the codes to help students figure out how to glue their pages in the notebook. 

Tap & Glue caps – Love these caps for my glue bottles!  Saves on glue as well as making things a bit neater for the students as they don't have glue everywhere.  I do have to remind them not to use a lot and often say, "Dot, dot, not a lot!"

Supply Crates – I used small plastic crates from the dollar store to set up supply crates at each set of tables.  Each crate has enough space for 4 bottles of glue, a cup with 4 scissors, and a pencil box with colored pencils and pencil sharpeners.    I snapped a picture of the correct way to organize the baskets and glue a copy on the front of each crate, which helps keep them from getting too messy.

Want an easy way to fill your glue bottles?  Purchase glue by the gallon along with a pump


Frequently Asked Questions

How "formal" are your science notebooks?
I do not follow the typical ISN structure, but have adapted it to best fit the needs of my classroom.  Notebooks are utilized as a learning portfolio with a record of all the lessons and activities completed during class.  While some pages are more interactive, there are others that act as note or information pages.  Most right-hand page are notes (either my format or doodle notes) and left-hand pages include activities related to the notes.  For example, during the ecology unit, I would have students take Doodle Notes on food chains and webs on the right-hand side.  The left-hand side would be used to create a pond water food web using pieces from the class activity.

How often do you grade the science notebooks?
I don't grade each notebook individually, but monitor them often for specific items - organization, page completion, etc.  I have also used an organization quiz, which is a half-sheet quiz that asks students to record page #s for specific items to see if they have the notebooks organized and completed.  I don't usually count it for a grade, but rather use the results to reinforce the need to stay organized - especially during the first few weeks as they learn to use them! 

Since I supervise the students as they add worksheets, quizzes, and tests, I can ensure they are placing items on the correct pages.  I do give notebook quizzes once or twice per week with questions from the lessons completed in class.  Students use their notebooks to find the answers.  Some questions may be the same as those included on their worksheets, while others require students to use the information to answer questions about the topics/concept.

Do your students lose their notebooks?
In the four years I have used ISNs, I have only had one student lose their notebook.  I always have a few who forget them at home, but use "excuse cards" in those cases (as well as for forgotten pencils, textbooks, etc.)  Students earn a detention after 5 excuse cards.  
Another bonus to using ISNs ... the amount of lost homework has decreased significantly since all class worksheets are glued in the notebooks.

Do you use a table of contents?
I don't use a table of contents, but I do have a master notebook that contains all the worksheets, quizzes, etc. so students have a reference if they have missed class.  I require students to write a date on the top of each page to help them remember what we did each day.  I also post a list of worksheets and page numbers on my chalkboard to help students who have been absent or just need to reorganize their notebooks.

Have other questions?  Send me an e-mail!

Interactive Science Notebooks Resources
Want to explore the research behind ISNs or find more information to help you make the most of them in your classroom? Check out our list of resources we used for our action research project. 

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Have your students use Doodle Notes for taking notes in their ISNs!  
Watch my video on
Educreations that was created to introduce my students to Doodle Notes!

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© 2019
The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm
Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL

Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences. Please link to resources rather than download them to your own server/website. Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.