What notebook should I use for an Algebra 1 interactive notebook?

If you’re just getting started with using interactive notebooks with your Algebra 1 class, you might have a few questions about what type of notebook you should use, how many pages, and how to make sure all of your students have one to use. In this post, I’ll try to address them all. If I leave something out, leave me a comment so I can answer your question!

What type of notebook should I use for interactive notebooks?

As a die-hard spiral-notebook lover, it even surprised myself when I first realized that composition books are the best choice for interactive notebooks. They had never been my first, second, or even third choice for my own personal note-writing over my life, so I was a bit resistant to trying them for the first time. Here’s what I found:

It’s not as easy to rip pages out of composition notebooks which means…

(1) it holds up better over time than a spiral notebook, and, more importantly,

(2) students don’t rip out pages when they need scratch paper for another class, like they would with a spiral notebook. Students with spirals always seem to run out of pages in their interactive notebook by the end of the semester due to ripping out a page here and there over the semester. This is rarely the case for students with composition notebooks.

“Students with spirals always seem to run out of pages in their interactive notebook by the end of the semester due to ripping out a page here and there over the semester. This is rarely the case for students with composition notebooks.”

Audrey, Math by the Mountain

How many pages do I need?

I use a 100-page composition notebook for each semester of Algebra 1. I go for college-rule and don’t bother with graph paper since I print graphs on the paper we will glue in. If you like to have your students put their warm-ups and/or activities (like cut in pastes or card sorts) in their notebook, definitely go for the 100 pages. If you’re strictly just using the interactive notebook for notes, then an 80-page option is fine.

You could also not put the warm-ups in and do an entire year of notes in one notebook, too. I find that students really most value their second semester notebook when it comes to referring back to topics over and over. Do what works best for you, and feel free to experiment!

Do all of my students need the same exact notebook if we’re doing interactive notebooks?

Nope! It’s OK if students don’t all have the same type of notebook as you. As long as they have enough pages, it’s going to be just fine. You can give them a personal recommendation, but let them bring what they have access to.

What do I do about students who won’t or can’t go out and get a notebook?

For some students, it’s a matter of time and convenience. For others, a matter of money. No matter the reason, you will always find yourself with students who still don’t have a notebook a week into the school year and it’s much easier to just give them a notebook than it is to have them fall behind.

If you have department money to use, I would purchase several notebooks to hand out to students who need them, no questions asked. You can find composition notebooks for $0.50/each over the summer.

I’ve also purchased them for $0.50/each over the summer and sold them to students for $0.50 to make it convenient. It’s usually pretty clear who just needs a convenient solution and who needs a donation, which I’m happy to do.

Have other questions?

Leave a comment below! I’ll be sure to answer it.

-Audrey

This post is part of the INB 101 – The Basics series.

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