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Math Packets vs Interactive Student Notebooks

I have been noticing Interactive Student Notebooks quite a bit online recently, as I have been spending more time on Pinterest and hopping from blog to blog. Many of the items I see as part of the ISNs are the same type of items I've made with my students for years. I used to have students keep a notebook with notes, examples, etc. However, a few years ago, our district did not have math books. At that time, most (if not all) of the other 6th grade math teachers were using math packets that had the notes/examples more formatted for the students. I had not used packets before, but with the lack of a book as a resource, I decided to use them.....and they are ok. I have found myself more "tied" to using the packet that I makes me feel like I am going through a workbook of sorts, and though it provides structure, I feel that it makes things more boring than they used to be. Whether it was my implementation of the packet use or just the packets themselves, I don't know. And it really doesn't matter. This year, I have found myself branching back to the types of cooperative learning activities and hands-on activities that I used to use, in my pre-packet days.

Today, I needed to have the new packet copied, and all the copiers were broken (imagine that!). After my last attempt to use a copier, I thought, "Well, we'll just have to start the chapter without the packet.....we have the book for practice" (yes, we have a new book this year.) And then I wondered to myself why I even NEEDED to copy the packet at all....

The students have recent items that can be added to their notebooks (they keep notebooks for their homework and our daily "MG," as I call it.) Why not start adding these items now and finish out the year using the ISN idea rather than the packets? The ISNs are much more suited to my style than the packets are. So, tomorrow I will start going packet-free!

Does anyone using Interactive Student Notebooks in math have any advice as we get started?


  1. As a first year teacher last year in a 6th grade classroom, I absolutely loved using interactive math journals. They had a foldable or picture of some sorts for every major lesson. I started off using a lot of Rundes Room ideas and then began coming up with some of my own. All my students want to keep them and take them home for next year. :)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Look at the site Runde's Room. She has an interactive notebook for sale on TPT that I bought.


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