The Kawaii Effect: Cute things make us careful, focus our attention, & motivate Kama Muta


Many of us like to look at cute images and videos on the internet – our mood improves. Instagram is purrfect for that. Turns out, …

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Stop/Control Negative Thoughts With Cognitive Defusion & Cognitive Restructuring Techniques


Everyone has negative thoughts at some point in time. Even psychologically healthy people have a fair amount of negative thoughts about themselves and others. And …

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The Benefits of Using Digital and Traditional Interactive Notebooks


The Benefits of Using Digital and Traditional Interactive Notebooks

I taught upper elementary and middle school students for twenty years, and a common problem with this age group is difficulty with organizing their work. I would teach note-taking skills, and we would add them to binders right away – and still a lot of kids would not have notes at the end of the unit – or the notes the wrote were a hot mess, even with modeling.

This problem was even worse for middle school students, who needed their notes to prepare for midterms, final exams, and end of course exams.

When my daughter struggled to learn civics, I created an interactive notebook for her and her friend. After “Tutoring with Mrs. Mezni’ and creating an interactive notebook, both of them passed with flying colors. 

I had similar results when I tested them with my fifth-grade students. 

How Do Interactive Notebooks Help Students?

 

There were a few things about the interactive notebook that I think increased students’ success. (These are all anecdotal beliefs I derived from using them in the classroom.)

  1. Interactive notebooks provided structure as to what students needed to learn and what was interesting but not necessarily a key idea. A lot of students have difficulty reading a textbook, and the textbooks become denser as they get to high school. Having that scaffolding gave students the support and confidence that they were finding the correct information.

 

  1. Having a few minutes to cut, glue, or even just color helped the kids have more movement in their day. We didn’t cut and glue every day, because it wasn’t the most efficient use of class time. However, some kids need to have that little bit of movement – even if it is just coloring or highlighting.

  1. Not having loose papers in the desk, on the floor, jammed in the backpack helped students keep track of what they needed. If it was something they could needed for review, we glued it in the book. (Even formative assessments – which helped parents to see how students were doing.)

 

  1. Some students took a lot of pride in their notebook. It sounds strange, but some of the more disengaged kids were really proud of their big fat notebook. As the year goes on, they notebooks get really thick. I had kids measuring – and even weighing – them. (We usually ended up having two notebooks for a subject because of how much we put in them.)

 

  1. Students had to take notes. It wasn’t optional. There have been many studies that connect increased retention with writing notes by hand. (Some students retain more when they type, due to learning issues.) For more information, see this article on Medical Daily by Lizzette Borrelli.

 

  1. Visuals are integrated into the notebooks. I always included maps or diagrams that helped students process information. Even if we used mini-anchor charts, students glued them in their notebooks. Parents also appreciated having visuals in the notebooks, because they often helped parents to be able to support their student.

 

The Benefits of Using Digital and Traditional Interactive Notebooks

  1. Using both digital and traditional notes help to better reach all students. Let’s face it, learning isn’t one-size-fits-all. I have had students with fine motor skills problems or severe vision issues, and traditional cut-and-paste notes really did not work well for them without a lot of teacher intervention. Some IEPS required teacher provided notes, too, which is a lot of work for teachers to create multiple notebooks.

Also, as much as I love cut and paste interactive notebooks, you can’t use them every day, in every subject, for every lesson. Part of what makes them engaging is that they are a way to also change up the routine of read, take notes, practice, test, repeat. Students are taking notes, but they also get to activate visual and kinesthetic skills. 

Utilizing both digital and traditional foldable organizers allowed me to select which style will best fit the needs of my lesson and students.

In the end, teachers have to find a note-taking method that fits both their style and their students needs. Interactive notebooks take some training at the beginning of the year – but so do other methods. In my classroom, I found the benefits outweighed the time needed to teach kids how to cut and glue in a reasonable amount of time. (Plus, honestly, I felt this was time well spent, as so many kids need to develop these fine motor skills. Teachers are no longer able to spend the time in primary grades doing the arts and crafts that helped students develop these skills. Not agreeing with it, but it is the reality of the classroom today.)

If you want to try interactive notebooks and have questions, please let me know. I am here to help!

Looking For Interactive Notebooks? 

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Whole-Teacher EclecticCon 2020


Whole-Teacher EclecticCon 2020

I know you either just finished school, or maybe you’re working through your last few days of the year, so it probably feels early to be talking about fall already. 

Later this summer, you’ll be ready, but I couldn’t wait to tell you about this PD that you’re going to want to check out, especially if you teach grades 3-5. 

Whole-Teacher EclecticCon 2020: July 27 – 31

 

We know that great teaching is about so much more than just academics. When was the last time your PD acknowledged that teaching the whole-child starts with nourishing the whole-teacher?

I’ve teamed up with an ah-mazing team of presenters to offer you an incredible 60+ training sessions on topics including all academic content areas, culturally responsive teaching, arts integration, social-emotional learning, special education, educational technology, avoiding burnout, tools to help you in the regular classroom and with distance learning, and more!

While we focused the academic content sessions largely around grades 3-5, you’ll find there’s a LOT of content that applies across all grade levels. If the session list resonates with you, please join us. All are welcome!

Pre-recorded sessions will be shared (10+ / day) over July 27 – 31. We’ll also host daily live sessions and panels. It’s going to be a great way to connect with teachers all around the world.

Watch the video below for more information on what to expect from day one of the conference.

Giveaways and Freebies

I have some extra awesome news: I’m giving away a free pass to the conference!

All you have to do is head to and join my FaceBook group for upper elementary teachers, The Teachers’ Lounge! Click here to head there now!

To make the conference even sweeter, I’m even throwing in a special freebie just to thank you for letting me pop into your inbox! If you register through my link by June 30, 2020, you can pick an ELA Test Prep Bundle of your choice – free! Just pick which bundle you would like – 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade. (3rd – 5th grade have two test prep bundles, so you can pick if you want volume 1 or 2.)


You’ll get a link to my website immediately after purchase to contact me with your selection.


Do you still have questions about Whole-Teacher EclecticCon? Email me or comment below and I’ll help however I can!

The Benefits of Using Digital and Traditional Interactive Notebooks

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