Interactive notebooks are research-based and proven to increase student achievement. While my personal experience with them is in high school English literature, they apply to any content area and can be easily adapted to lower grade levels. Please see below for research and other resources.
When I first used this idea for literature, I created an example to share with my students. I shared it, however, by using the document camera and not zooming in close enough for them to copy my summaries, questions, and predictions. Having the example made it much easier for them to understand what was expected of them.
One of the things I most like about the interactive notebook is that it lends itself so easily to differentiation. The students are able to make choices as to how they will interact with the literature; yet, it also provides specifics for them to follow, preventing the project from turning into a “chaotic mess”. It pushes each of them, regardless of skill level, to be creative and to actually think about the literature.
As we were using the notebooks, my students (male and female) were highly engaged. They asked questions like, “Why didn’t we do this when we read Frankenstein?” They all agreed that they would have gained a deeper understanding of the other pieces we read if we had used the interactive notebooks.
Once we were finished with the project, I gave them an anonymous feedback form. Of 154 students, 151 of them agreed or strongly agreed that the project was meaningful and beneficial. Three of them felt that the project was not at all beneficial and should never be used again. Coincidentally, three of 154 students did not submit the final project. I also saw the positive results of it in their summative paper/pencil test on the work. 92% of my students scored 70% or higher.
It is crucial to remember, however, that while the multiple measures associated with interactive notebooks are proven to increase student achievement (see below), you must use your discrection as to when and how to use them. They do not lend themselves to every aspect of learning and must be utilized where they fit the need and objective.