My No. 1 “Teacher Hack” For Interactive Notebooks

Making things for interactive notebooks can be tedious, at times.  If you’re like me, you use a composition notebook so students will (hopefully) resist the urge to tear out pages for scratch paper.  The issue with composition notebooks, however, is their sizing.  A full sheet of paper is much too large to fit, but a half sheet makes the page feel a bit empty.

Also, unless you want to make everything from scratch to perfectly fit in your interactive notebook, you’re a bit stuck on what to do to get full-sized materials you may have used in the past to fit.

My hack: print any normal sized paper at 80-85% the size and, after cutting out the paper, it will fit PERFECTLY into a composition interactive notebook.  Use this hack to make the world your oyster.

Here’s how to do it:
1.  Make sure your document has been saved as a PDF.
2.  When you go to print, select the following setting:printing setup

Rule of Thumb:
If the margins on the original paper are 1″, print at 85%.
If the original margins on the paper are .5″, print at 80%.
If the original margins on the paper are at .25″, print at 75% (not common).

Here’s the difference it makes:

printing hack long pin


This has saved me a TON of time making interactive notebook pages, and also allows the writing space to be much larger for students.  Sometimes a half-sheet can be cramped.  Hopefully this teaching hack can help save you a ton of time, like it does for me!

TRIGSTER! – A student created review game for trigonometry.

At the end of the school year, I had my Algebra 2 + Support students do a project.  The project was to focus on any unit we had done that semester and create something that reviewed that unit that the rest of the class could also benefit from.  I got a lot of things from a comic book, several board games, a ukulele song, and an amazingly edited YouTube video, but my favorite project was TRIGSTER.

This was the project’s instructions:final project (semester 2)_Page_1final project (semester 2)_Page_2


Now, I present to you…TRIGSTER!  Two girls made this game as a twist on Twister.  It’s mean to be a very fast-paced game where 4 aspects of trig are reviewed: (1) the trig ratios for the big six functions, (2) abbreviations and connections for big six functions, (3) exact trig values from special right triangles, and (4) reference angles and angles in standard position (as well as a couple of formulas to convert between radians and degrees).  I absolutely was blown away by this project and am so excited to play it in the years to come for my future Algebra 2 classes!  Students can do amazing things, if we let them.

I’ve included their customized instructions, below.


704 (2)

How-To: Synthetic Division

During my Algebra 2 unit on polynomials, I had asked my (support) class if they would like to stick to just using polynomial long division, which works for every single problem, or if they would like to also learn another method (synthetic) that, while far quicker, only works in certain situations.  It was almost unanimous that they favored sticking to polynomial long division, which was fairly surprising to me. I almost figured they would want a quicker method, but their rationale was sound.  They thought that having another method would just trip them up, and they didn’t really see a point if it could only be used for linear binomials.


However, a few weeks after our unit on polynomials, we had a bit of down time so I introduced synthetic just for fun.  The students caught on quickly, but still preferred long division since it made more sense to them. (I agree that Synthetic is harder to wrap one’s head around.  It feels a bit more “magic.”)  Unfortunately, most of the class was gone that day due to an optional viewing of the school play being offered for students during the first four periods of the day.


As we start moving toward reviewing for finals, I figured I’d make a slideshow for students to view on their phones if they wanted to get a refresher on synthetic division.  Here it is!  I like it because it has a quiz-yourself and work-at-your-own-pace feel to it.

Do you cover both synthetic and long division for polynomials?  Which does your class seem to prefer?

Download a PDF of the slideshow here: synthetic-division-how-to






Roots and Radical Expressions Unit Notebook Pages (Algebra 2)

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