Why use interactive notebooks in Algebra 1?

So now that you know what an interactive notebook is and what goes in them, your next question is probably:

Are Algebra 1 students too old to use interactive notebooks?


If you teach Algebra 1, odds are you have 8th graders or freshmen. In either case these are students in a major transition period. Either at the very end of middle school or the very beginning of high school. 

Typically, these students still majorly struggle with organization and need to be explicitly taught several soft skills like how to take good notes, how to use notes to refer back to if they get stuck, how to study, how to stay organized, and so on. 

There is a lot of intentional practice and habits that go into interactive notebooks that make it the perfect tool to address students at this age of transition. Interactive notebooks help bridge the soft-skill gap that these students are still working to develop. Organizational and study habits that students form over the course of using interactive notebooks stick with them long after.

 5 Reasons to Use Interactive Notebooks in Algebra 1 (even with high schoolers):

  1. Interactive Notebooks teach organizational skills (if you’ve ever met a freshmen, you know this is badly needed)
  2. Notes are less likely to be lost into “the void” (AKA their backpack)
  3. They promote study skills (literally being on the same page as your students has its advantages)
  4. Students create their own reference material for future math courses. The gap between Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 can be very hard for students. They have two summers plus all of Geometry to forget many of their Algebra 1 skills, and then students are expected to remember everything from Algebra 1 like it was yesterday, from the first moment they begin Algebra 2. Interactive notebooks are incredible reference materials for students to look back on later on. 
  5. Students take greater ownership over their notes (even the students you might not have thought would). 

As we know in math teaching, our job is never just about teaching math. There is so much more that needs to be taught to address all of the needs of our students. At the Algebra 1 age, interactive notebooks are the perfect tool to help students transition from middle school to high school since interactive notebook practices are steeped in soft-skill building (specifically in relation to organization and study skills). 

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

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