Interactive Notebooks in the Read 180 Classroom!

Starting Interactive Notebooks was daunting, to say the least!  Starting Interactive Notebooks with a Read 180 class...well, let's just say that there was definitely a big daunting learning curve.  However, midway through the 2nd quarter, I have to say that I am unbelievably proud of our notebooks!

Which is why I am linking up with Erin of I'm Lovin' Lit for her Interactive Throw Down Linky to POSITIVELY BRAG about MY STUDENTS!

Just in case you are not familiar with Read 180, it is a Scholastic reading intervention program.  It comes with a language workbook (or L-book), a reading textbook (or R-book), a Lexile leveled class library, and an intensive computer software reading program.  It is intended for students who are reading far below or below grade level.  Overall, it is a really good program. 

Now, I have been doing "Math Notebooks" or as they were called in the olden days, "Math ToolKits,"  for years before I realized that they were called "Interactive Math Notebooks," but it had been nine years since I had broken out of the Read 180 routine and tried something new with reading.  So earlier this year, when our R-books were trapped in Purchasing Purgatory, I took the opportunity to RUN!  Did I do it the right way?  Who knows?  I just ran through Target like a madwoman, throwing post-it notes and composition notebooks in my cart with a smile on my face.

We started with reading Maroo of the Winter Caves, and instead of summaries of chapters read in class, I pulled passages and worked on "textual evidence."  I modeled, they wrote, I modeled again, they took a lot of work, but then this started happening.

 And their passages started looking like this...
Then we started posting responses, because sharing them in the morning was taking too long:).
Then I got brave and tried Erin's Plot Elements Foldable.  Did they need some help?  Of course, they did!  We went through the lesson as a class, for an entire morning (since they are a self-contained Intervention class, I have them for four straight periods), and they were totally involved in the lesson.
After this we did some readings on the Iceman - which probably should have gone into a Social Studies Interactive Notebook, but I am not exactly following the normal template.
Then reality hit.  Our R-books arrived.  No more small group time with our Interactive Notebooks because we had R-books to get through.  
And that is when I rebelled.  We are totally using our Notebooks still.  We use them in small group for our responses and QuickWrites, with our Action magazine, and for homework.  I am taking a break from a class novel and giving them time to get into the Read 180 library books and novels.
With every book in the Read 180/System 44 library, there is a Quickwrite and Graphic Organizer.  In the past, these tended to just fill up the Read 180 basket, and once in a while I would pretend to look at them.  They were awful and sloppy, because I didn't pay attention to them.  

This year they are going in their Interactive Notebooks - which magically makes them special.   I watch my kids take their time, carefully writing and editing, cutting and pasting, and checking them over before showing them to me...and I am amazed.  They have to be perfect because they are going in "the Notebook."

They started writing their test scores on the top of their Quickwrite pages, all by themselves.  About every two weeks, instead of small group with the R-book, we go over them together in private conferences.  This is the first year, I have been able to really keep track of the numerous tests and books.  And best of all, they are writing responses like this...
Her Lexile is in the mid 500's.  Pure teacher joy:)!

Without a doubt, this has been the most challenging year I have had in a long time.  There were days in August where I questioned my sanity and was tempted to revert back to the standard reading logs.  My strict Read 180 routine has taken a hit, but their SRI growth has skyrocketed.  Will I do it differently next year?  Absolutely, there will be changes even as the year goes on.  It has taken more time, and they definitely look different than other "Interactive Notebooks" that I have seen, but Read 180 and Interactive Notebooks definitely work.  Upper grade teachers are coming in and checking them out, which has the kids bursting with pride.  I couldn't be prouder or happier.

The one thing that I was most worried about was that they would lose their Notebooks.
To date, not one has gone missing.  Occasionally, one gets left in a desk or at home, but they have not "lost" one yet.  Middle schoolers, intervention class, one third of them are ADHD, two-thirds are boys, and they haven't lost one yet.   At his Student Led Conference, one of my boys was showing his mom his Notebook and said, "It makes me feel smart."  They haven't lost one yet.


  1. That's awesome. What a great way to support your kids. It's really exciting when you find something that is so powerful and learning really takes off.
    Are We There Yet?

  2. I love it! I totally agree about my students being proud of their notebooks and in the last two years, no one has actually lost a notebook. I love that you get them for 4 straight periods - I know that HAS to be a challenging four periods for you, but what a great block of time to get some things accomplished!
    :) Erin
    I'm Lovin Lit

  3. I too am just starting interactive notebooks this year so I really appreciate hearing about how it is going in other classrooms. I love that your students take more time and care with the information that goes in their notebooks - that is some great ownership of their learning!

  4. Awesome post and honesty. I, too, am dabbling in interactive notebooks this year via Erin, as well as rolling in CCSS and inquiry-based units of study. It's muddy and tough, but it's SOOO worth it :) Michelle

  5. It's so great to see your excitement over INB's! Honestly, I have tried (or at least, I think I tried) using INB's in my classroom but I found that they took too long to put together and the kids got too focused on all of the artsy part. They would spend more time coloring than on learning the topic.

    Seriously...what am I doing wrong?!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  6. Susan,

    It's awesome to see you getting your students to dive so deep into their reading. I really enjoyed this post-thanks for sharing!

    Have a great start to your week,

  7. I loved this post. I created a "writing response journal" for my students in Read 180 instead of reading logs. We were off and running at the beginning of the year, but now mid-year the kids aren't as excited. I am glad I came across this post...It has given me lots of ideas on how to "spice" it up a little and keep the accountability on the students! Again loved it, thanks!

  8. How do you give your students access to the graphic organizers and quickwrites?