Saturday, March 19, 2016

Digital Interactive Notebooks in the Social Studies Classroom


The idea of using Google Drive in the classroom is an exciting and daunting adventure. One minute you’re printing worksheets and activities. The next, you’re faced with a room full of tablets or laptops, the world at your fingertips and no idea how to get started. Gulp. The good news is you’re not alone. I hope this post sparks your creativity and ignites your passion for using technology in the classroom!

For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming you already have access to the right technology and that your students have access to Google accounts sanctioned and established by your district. If not, look HERE for more information on setting up your Google-ready classroom or search for Google Classroom on the internet!
 
 

What is a Digital Interactive Notebook?


Digital interactive notebooks (Digital INBs) are virtual notes pages that students use to organize their class notes. Instead of using paper, glue, scissors and other supplies, all you need is access to a computer, the internet, and the right software. You can use Google Drive – which is FREE! Using Google Slides, students can easily navigate between topics and pages. Everything is always organized, neat, and accessible.
 
 
Why should I use Digital INBs?
 
Interactive notebooks are a great way for students to organize their notes in an engaging format. Students love to navigate between the pages, insert textboxes and use the computers to take their notes. Granted, it’s still notetaking, but in a new and novel format! Oh, and you’ll LOVE that they students never lose their work. It’s never stuffed at the bottom of a backpack or flittering away in the wind. It’s all safely stored online where they can always find it. FINALLY! J
 
 
What do digital INBs look like?
Digital INBs have a wide range of styles and various graphic organizers. I love designing digital notebooks with lots of color, clip art, photographs and of course plenty of room for student notes. Check out the pictures below for a better idea of the format and design of some digital INBs I created for Ancient History!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



What if my students don’t have technology or internet at home?
Every school and district is different and you know your students best. If you’re worried about tech and internet access at home, I propose using the computers and Google Drive at school, then printing out a student’s notes so that they have access to it at home. They still get to use the technology in school with the rest of their peers but get to take a hard-copy home with them at the end of the day or unit. It’s the best of both worlds for students who need that accommodation in your own classroom.
 
 
Where can I find digital INBs and how can I make my own?
I love making digital interactive notebooks. In fact, I’m uploading more and more to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop whenever I can find a spare moment. If you’re interested in purchasing some ready-made digital INBs, I recommend checking out The Teacher’s Prep (that's me! J), Students of History, and more! For a few bucks, a complete digital INB is at your fingertips for use in your own classroom!
If you want to make your own, I highly recommend Danielle Knight’s Google Drive Toolkit. I owe everything I learned about Google Drive to her amazing resource. You may be able to search for help online, but she’s organized everything (with pictures) in an easy-to-use file. Seriously amazing.
If you’re interested in looking at a notebook before taking the plunge, check out my FREE Exploring Social Studies Digital Interactive Notebook for Google Drive. Play around with it, try it in your classroom, and gauge the activity in your own classroom. Try making history come alive in a whole new way!

-The Teacher's Prep
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

50 comments:

  1. I am student teaching this year, and we use interactive notebooks in my social studies classroom. My cooperating teacher uses so much paper printing out their materials, and I am obsessed with this alternative! Thank you for sharing this. I will definitely be making my own for my own classes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome, Carolyn! I hope you have lots of fun creating new and innovative lessons for your students! :)

      Delete
  2. Wonderful blog post. I really enjoyed your reasons to try the Digital INBS. And the accommodations for students without the internet at home. Excellent point! And thank you for the shout out! I love collaborating with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for creating such an amazing resource! You inspired me to try new ideas in my classroom! :)

      Delete
  3. What program do you use to create the notes pages?

    ReplyDelete
  4. How do you distribute new pages to students to add to their notebooks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One way to distribute new pages is to share a new Google Drive presentation with your students that includes the new pages. All they have to do is:

      1. Open up the new document (with the new pages) and "Copy" the page(s) and "Paste" them into their notebook.

      OR

      2. After you've shared your new file with the additional pages, ask the students to click "Insert", then "Import Slides". From there, they can select the file you've created and specific pages that need to be added to their notebook.

      I hope that helps! :)

      Delete
  5. I'm also wondering how you distribute new pages to students. Our district has a learning management system that we use. I would love to be able to post the page for the day and then have them download it and put it in their Google Slides interactive notebook. Also, I'm trying to create my own templates for my curriculum and I love the colored pencil background you have on your templates. Did you do this through powerpoint or did you have to buy this from somewhere?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's how I distribute new pages: First, share a new Google Drive presentation with your students that includes the new pages. All they have to do is:

      1. Open up the new document (with the new pages) and "Copy" the page(s) and "Paste" them into their notebook.

      OR

      2. After you've shared your new file with the additional pages, ask the students to click "Insert", then "Import Slides". From there, they can select the file you've created and specific pages that need to be added to their notebook.

      I'm not sure if this strategy is what you're looking for. I've also tried sending out a PowerPoint to students with the pages and having them "Copy" then "Paste the slides from my PowerPoint to their Google Drive. I've noticed the image quality deteriorates during the transition.

      The colored pencil backgrounds are from Danielle Knight on Teachers Pay Teachers and were included in her "Google Drive Toolkit". She also offers a set called "Fluorescent Crayon Textured Backgrounds" in her store.

      I hope that helps!

      Delete
  6. How do you make the page portrait rather than landscape?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question, Ms. Hildreth! :)

      When in Google Slides, click "File" --> "Page Setup" --> Select the drop down menu and click "Custom" --> type in 8.5 x 11 and you're ready to go!

      Delete
  7. I am loving this idea and set on figuring out how to make it work in my classroom this year! One thing I cannot figure out... (I am not very good with Google!)...I created a slide in powerpoint, but am unsure how to get it into google slides so that the students cannot edit/change the stationary parts (like yours is). I am assuming once I do get it into slides, that I simply add a text box to where they would type in their notes? I appreciate your help! This is seriously a good idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katherine, thanks for your question! After making your slides, save each as a PNG file. Then, in Google Slides, click the "Background" button (somewhere at the top and middle) and insert/upload each slide onto a separate page. Then just insert those text boxes! :)

      Delete
  8. That worked perfectly! Awesome! Thank you SO much!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Could this be done in Google Slides and used with Google Classroom? Have you explored this option? Thanks, Tonya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tonya, great question! I create digital interactive notebooks for Google Slides, so yes, it can definitely be done! :) I'm not an expert on Google Classroom but I know that teachers use these notebooks in conjunction with the program as it utilizes Google Slides. If you have access to Google Classroom, I recommend that you download a digital interactive notebook freebie (I have one in my store you can look at) to test out the program before making any big commitments. :)

      Delete
  10. I am super excited about this post! I have a brand new classroom this year and I am looking for a way to engage at risk students wth the INB! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I'm so excited that you are thinking of trying digital INBs! Have fun!!

      Delete
  11. Hey Girlie!! I love your digital interactive notebooks and would love to use them in my 5th grade classroom this year!! I am hoping to see you add more to the US History soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angi, your message brought a huge smile to my face! Thank you!! I'm in the process of creating more, so keep checking TpT. :)

      Delete
  12. Love this idea and am wa needing how you hold students accountable for this work. How often/ deep do you check their notebooks? How long does it take?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juliet, thanks for the questions! Personally, I check student notes at the end of every unit. I like giving students the opportunity to add to their notes and change them over the course of the unit, so I don't check them for a grade until the time of our test. Since I don't rely just on INBs, I'm afraid there's no easy answer for how long it takes. It depends upon the unit! I'd say I spend an average of 2-3 weeks on a concept like the American Colonies, for example. I supplement my lessons with a variety of activities. I use the INBs to form a foundation/introduce students to a concept, then we dive deeper with other activities. I hope that helps! :)

      Delete
  13. OMGSH! SO cool!!!! What a great, GREAT idea! I am so going to try this out with my 3rd graders this year. They will think these digital interactive notebooks are just as cool as I do! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your excitement!! I hope you have tons of fun creating your notebooks and that your students LOVE them! :)

      Delete
  14. Is there a way to copy and paste a slide on the ipad? My students are one to one but I can't find a way. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chelsea, while I don't have access to an iPad at the moment, I did try it on the Google Slides app on my iPhone. To copy a slide, I double-tapped the slide I wanted to copy and hit the "Copy" option from the little menu that popped up. Then, I clicked on the same slide again and clicked the word "Paste" from the little menu. It duplicated the slide perfectly in that one presentation. :)

      Hope that helps you!

      Delete
  15. I have been using printed notebooks so that my students can practice taking notes and I let them use them on tests as an incentive. However, I love the benefits offered by digital notebooks. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the best of both worlds?
    Thanks for the great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would a study guide work? I create study guide outlines for my students all the time to help them focus their study time. Perhaps you could make a simple guide with main ideas they need to know. Then they could use their digital notes to fill it out and use that guide on their tests. Since they have to write it again, it would actually help them review the information a second (or third, fourth, etc.) time! :)

      Delete
  16. I would love to make my own and tailor it to our World Cultures class (Texas) and make them in Spanish since I teach Dual Language. How do you make the main text uneditable? For example in your free 'Exploring Social Studies' notebook the vocabulary words can't be changed. What did you do in Google Slides to make it that way? Thanks, Frances

    ReplyDelete
  17. Do you think the $45 kit from TPT is worth it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marcie, I loved the kit because it gave me invaluable information when starting digital interactive notebooks. If you are a novice in building a lesson or activity on Google Drive, I highly recommend it. :)

      Delete
  18. Please create a US 1965-present google drive kit.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would really love a tutorial on how you create your notebook pages! I know that may be asking a lot, but these are awesome!

    Thanks!
    brittany.carol@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brittany, thanks for your question! I first start building my pages in PowerPoint. Then I save each page as a separate PNG file - so basically each page is a picture. Then I create a new file in Google Drive Pages and upload each page separately using the "Background" option in the center of the option bar in the Google Drive pages. That way students can't edit my background clip art and shapes. After that I add in textboxes for editing/notes and voila! :)

      Delete
    2. What is Google Drive Pages? Is it different than Google Slides?

      Delete
  20. Great info!! Does the INB need to be started in powerpoint? Is that the best way? I have started some slides in google draw and downloaded as a .png then uploaded and then put the text boxes.....very tedious. Any suggestions or directions are greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always start my digital INBs in PowerPoint. It's easier for me to design the pages. :)

      Delete
  21. Hi there! :) I LOVE digital notebooks. My students are so excited when we get to work on ours. If I can ask...how do you upload them to tpt to sell it? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  22. While my classroom is 1-1 iPad, I still teach in an elementary classroom. How did you go about creating student email addresses to log into Google slides? Was it something the school created? Parents set up? Or is there a way to share and edit via a class code instead?

    Thank you for any information!

    Christy
    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for sharing this fabulous idea. My students work exclusively on google and are proficient in documents, slides, and classroom. (You would love classroom. It is a far easier way to organize and share materials with your students.) A couple of questions... Do you change your slide into a template that your students can add to but not change the formatting? If so, how? Second... How do you label your pages so students have quick access to the information? This is such a brilliant idea. I love the color and variety of activities. I am hoping to find some dedicated to word work for upper elementary or middle school. I am also digging into your post on working with vocabulary. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello! I am a first year teacher, and I have slowly been going digital. I consider myself about halfway tech savvy, and I have gradually been going paperless. I do have a question about digital notebooks. Do students create a new notebook for each unit? I love the idea of having one notebook the entire year, but would that be possible if I'm not sure what my units will even look like beforehand? If I send an INB skeleton to them on Google Drive, and then I realize I want to add an additional activity or organizer, is it possible to add it to an existing INB without issue? Thank you for your help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, thanks for your question! My students do use a different notebook for each unit. They "collect" them all in their Google Drive account. My students don't actually create their own notebooks. I send them the pages and they fill them in as part of our units of study. I think having a notebook for the entire year is a really interesting concept but I'm concerned about the time it would take to navigate to the right page. You can "push out" a new page on Google Drive to them and they can copy and paste the new page into their existing notebook. I try to get the notebook all set up before sending it out to the students so that it eliminates the hassle of copying/pasting a new page into the right spot but sometimes you just have a blast of inspiration and have to add that awesome new content! :)

      Delete
  25. Great idea, but I have a procedural question...are students typing into the notebook as you're presenting (ie. you have a filled out copy of the presentation, that they are typing into while you're presenting?)
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually don't have lectures in my classroom. (Hopefully I'm understanding your definition of "presenting" properly). I do introduce a lesson with some sort of hook to grab their attention. Then students collaborate together to take notes on whatever topic we're discussing for the day. They use textbooks, relevant websites or other resources that I provide to them. I like the students to gather the information for themselves as I find it more effective in my classroom. We do review the notes to ensure they have the right information. I only have them work on a certain page or two at a time. I like to think of the notebooks as a foundation of knowledge. Kids start there to gather the basics and then we build upon that knowledge with a wide variety of supplemental activities. I LOVE using primary sources! :) Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Delete
  26. This looks great! Do you keep students in the same notebook for the whole unit? year? how do you keep their pages and notebooks organized?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Students do use the same notebook for the whole unit. Each notebook shows up as a different file in Google Drive and the act of typing the notes helps keeps the notes organized and legible.

      Delete