How to use Interactive Notebooks as Study Tools in Algebra 1

Interactive notebooks are study tools at their core. There are many ways to encourage students to develop this relationship with their notebook. Here are a few:

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How to Grade Interactive Notebooks in Algebra 1

“How do you grade interactive notebooks” is a common question I get.

And, to be honest, I don’t.

Not always anyways!

To Grade or Not to Grade?

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Routines for Using Interactive Notebooks in Algebra 1

One of the most important things to ensuring that your experience with interactive notebooks runs smoothly and doesn’t waste class time is through your use of routines and the organization of your classroom. In another post I talk about supplies you’ll need and how I organize them, and in this post I’ll walk you through how to set yourself up for success with routines that utilize that organization. 

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Interactive Notebook Supplies & Organization in Algebra 1

If you’re wanting to do interactive notebooks, you’re going to want to make sure you have several supplies ready and organized. 

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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. 

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What is an interactive notebook & What goes in it?

In this blog post, we are going to go over all of the basics of interactive notebooks. To get us started, let’s go to the very beginning…

What is an interactive notebook?

An interactive notebook is just a composition or spiral notebook that students develop over the course of a class where students can organize their notes and their learning to be used as a study tool. 

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How to Set up an Interactive Notebook for Algebra 1

Getting started with interactive notebooks? Here’s what to do!

The logistics of starting an interactive notebook is one of the most dauting barriers for math teachers. Here’s a set of simple 3 steps to take to get started!

1. Number the pages (If nothing else, do this!)

You will want to be on the same page as your students, quite literally, when using interactive notebooks. Being on the same page allows you so many opportunities to promote study skills and refer students back to a particular topic to help them get “un-stuck.” Promoting study skills is one of the biggest benefits of interactive notebooks so don’t skip this step.

WORD OF CAUTION: Make sure to number the pages as the very first thing that you do! Interactive notebooks get very thick over the course of a semester, and it will be difficult to write in the corners by the time the notebook is almost complete.

If you want more tips on choosing a notebook, read this post about What notebook should I use for an Algebra 1 Interactive Notebook?

2. Make a Plan

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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:

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