Interactive Notebook Motivation!

Not too long ago, I publicly vowed to never join a linky party just to be at the party.  Well, Joanne's Spark Student Motivation Saturday linky is a perfect place for me to brag a little about how great my students are doing with their Interactive Reading Notebooks.
Before we go any further, a little background information about my 6th grade class is necessary.  My main group is considered an intervention class - the whole class, all thirty of them.  All are really struggling in Language Arts, and all (but a few) are really struggling with Math.  A little over half of them are in Read 180, and the rest are starting out in System 44.  I get to have them for four periods in a row, and we do everything, except Science.   I love it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  For me, this is where the magic happens.

This year we are going all out with our Reading Notebooks.  In the past, they have done great things, but they have all been done individually.  I have assigned traditional reading logs, and then struggled to figure out why I was getting so few turned in.  This year we went with composition notebooks.  There is something about comp notebooks that make you feel like a college student; I remember feeling so grown up when I had one.

Last Sunday, I shared what their homework looked like, but in case you missed it.....
"We" or I read in class.  They are expected to re-read and answer one question.  I prep them in class by asking questions and allowing them to Think-Pair-Share before they go home.  They are expected to write about 1/2 a page.
This week they were expected to find evidence from the story to support their answer - very focused questions.  I challenged them to use quotations from the story, and daily modeled how to do it.
Do you see them Quotation marks!!!!  This is from one of my System 44 kids, awesome right?  This was not easy for him, and you can almost pick up the "focus vibes" from the page. 

So why would 29 (one was absent) struggling 6th graders triumphantly turn in their Interactive Reading Notebooks for a grade, the second week in a row?

1.  I demanded that they do it.  I took no excuses and no prisoners.
2.  I told them about how impressed the other teachers were at Language Arts meeting, and that the "other kids" (or non Read 180 kids) weren't doing anything close to what they were doing.
3. I pulled sticks everyday.  If their name was pulled, they shared their Notebook under the camera.  We all got to help them revise and fix what needed to be done.  That act of bravery won their table 10points!
 4. Most importantly, I told them that on Friday I was pulling 5 name sticks and those Notebooks were going to be read and graded by our assistant principal.  She was going to talk to each of them about their Notebook.  If they didn't have their Notebook complete, then they were going to have to explain that to her.

Now, many of my students have been to the office in elementary school on more than one occasion - it comes with the "intervention" territory.  Rarely do I actually send them, it is usually a problem at lunch or PE.  One has already spent some time up in the office, and more than a couple will visit her again.  For me, it is really important that she knows them, and that they know her, before any disciplinary problems arise.

How did the kids feel about it?  Well, by Wednesday I had at least twelve volunteers.  They wanted to go see her and share their Notebook.  On Friday, as my basket was filling up, about six more asked if their notebook could get turned in to her.  As I was leaving school, I dropped them off in her office and she squealed with delight.  It was a win-win situation...well, I still have 24 Notebooks to grade.

Next week, I think the 8th grade AVID teacher is going to get them, or maybe our School Resource Officer, or maybe our WEB advisor, or maybe their PE teachers, or maybe all of them and then I have no Notebooks to grade over the weekend.....mmmmm.


  1. This is great! I love that you have other teachers/administration that are excited to look at some of your kiddos notebooks! What a great way to motivate them!

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
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  2. Congrats on your breakthrough! I love using journals too and it looks like they are. Sounds like they don't want to let you down. You found a way to help them feel successful and willing to take a risk. Enjoy the success and keep involving your village!

  3. How wonderful Susan! You are making them feel so successful and proud of their work! I love your 4 reasons for them turning in their notebooks. I also am stealing the sharing under the camera and giving the table group points for bravery! I share writing all the time on my camera, but the points will motivate them to write their best every time and excited their group if a member gets called to share! Let's give points to your assistant principal too! Thanks for sharing and linking up! I can't wait to hear more!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  4. I "liked" your post on bloglovin' so that I can revisit it again & again! I love how you used your administration. You must have a great relationship with her, and I'm sure she loves the student contact. I would love to incorporate something like this with my third graders! Thanks for sharing!

    Third Grade in the First State

  5. What a great idea! I love that it gives them a bigger purpose than just to finish an assignment for you!

  6. I like your dedication. What steps do you take to get them to actually get to half a page? I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get that from my students, and they are not in need of intervention.

    Simply Sixth Grade