Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I Love Grading Interactive Notebooks

This is my first year using interactive notebooks (INBs). I have previously had my students keep binders with 5 organized sections and they worked very well with my 7th graders. But, I moved to the high school this year and the Geometry department wanted to try INBs and the idea seemed right up my alley. And I have LOVED using them! We don't have textbooks, so they are a great resource and the students are much more fluent with using it as opposed to a book because they have created it.
When we were researching different methods associated with the INBs, we discovered so many ways to organize, store, and grade. It came down to what fit with our personal style of teaching and organizing.
I teach 5 periods of Math and each class has their own crate for keeping the notebooks in the classroom. They are allowed (and encouraged) to store them in the classroom unless they need it to work in or study from. They are required to bring it to class every day and I reserve the right to collect and take a grade from them at any time (although I usually give a few days' warning).
This is my 10th year teaching and the first that I don't HATE grading. As far as grading goes, I actually love grading the INBs. Here's why:

1. I can't take them home. There are too many and they are too heavy. I have to park quite a distance from my classroom and my weak arms can't carry one crate home...let alone 5. So, I have to grade them in my classroom. What a gift! It forces me to manage my time while at school- on my planning period, before school, at lunch, and after school. Why is that so awesome? Well, when I leave school, I am not taking hours worth of grading home. I occasionally bring quizzes or tests home and I still do some planning at home, but the time I spend working from home has been dramatically reduced. I can actually spend time with my guys when I am home. I feel more in control of my time. Work is done (mostly) at work and home is done at home. 

2. I can take several grades at one sitting. Even if a couple weeks go by between collecting and grading INBs, it is easy to catch up. Students do their Bell Work in the notebooks, so each week is one grade, they have several assignments and tasks that should be in the notebook, and I take a grade strictly on the notebook. It takes no time to catch up because it is all RIGHT THERE! And, if it is not, I don't have to go digging for a paper in a wrong stack...each assignment has a page number so it makes grading a breeze.

3. They are so organized. There are no orphaned papers without names for which I have to try to track down an owner. Names are on the front of the notebook and on the first page. Everything has a place and they are given time and supplies to insert things in the correct place. I am clear about pages numbers and give ample time for taping, cutting, writing, etc. (Sidenote: I think this is another benefit of INBs. These things take a couple minutes and are therefore, built in brain breaks.) Grading the INBs is so much easier than the stacks and stacks of paper I used to load up and carry home to bring it right back the next day (often undone.) I remember standing at the "Incoming" tray sorting students' assignments and feeling so overwhelmed by the thought of grading all those papers. 

So, you must be wondering about my process. Well, unfortunately, it is not anything ground-breaking, but in case you find it helpful, I want to share as much as possible. Please feel free to ask if you would like clarification or more details!

Say I need to grade two weeks worth of pages. That will be two Bell Work weeks and I give them 5 points per day, so that works out to be two 25 point grades (unless it's a short week or we didnt have BW one day for some reason). It will also include any notes (teacher or student driven), activities, completed foldables, or assignments. I take the two BW grades, plus create a mini-rubric (usually on a note card, see example above) and give a final notebook grade.  And voila! Notebooks graded and 3-4 grades entered into the grade book! I write a little comment and a score in the notebook for feedback for the student.

Do you have any great ideas or methods for grading INBs? I would love to hear about them! Please leave a comment below!