Patti Duncan: Notebooks & Journals in the Media-Rich Classroom at #DENSI2012

Pennsylvania’s own Patti Duncan believes today’s student learns best when exposed to multiple modes of text. Helping them get all of the information they need from videos, images, reading passages, songs and interactive experiences can be a daunting task. Interactive notebooks, graphic organizers and reflective journals help them make the connections necessary to succeed. Get ready for this session to explore the use of these tools and more.

Patti’s job is implementation; she lives to find better ways for you to use all the vast Discovery Education resources. Her goal: how to provide your students with non-traditional note giving and taking and instead use the tablet and tech book approach. Patti began by taking a look into the past way of notetaking: chalkboard, overhead projector with transparencies–still copying information from the board. Enter the whiteboard; didn’t help. It was about the way the teacher was delivering the information. Computers in the classroom, but now we project notes on the whiteboard. PowerPoint was the thing. The problem: didn’t change how students gathered information.

Still not good processing.

The student-centered way.

Then reel-to-reel, video sheets. Nothing changed. Patti said she has moved to an interactive science notebook. Students need a place for them to process what they are learning.

Patti's favorite notebook: the quad

The right way for notebooks: student centered with student processing what they are learning in the moment. It’s a learning curve, but teachers should allow processing and synthesizing with the content in a way that makes sense for them. Patti likes best the composition book, then the spiral. But she doesn’t like binders because they house teacher papers. Bound’s best, spiral is ok, but binders do not make good notebooks. Patti’s favorite is the grid composition book because the lines are already there and work well for a science class.

Organizing the notebook: left side is student processing; right side is teacher-directed input. Doodling is fine. Students need to use graphic representations especially if they are visual learners. Graphics with information in layers is input, but teachers should encourage student synthesis. Patti likes when students can bullet information because it helps them process information, but she reminds her audiences that there is no one right way to do this and you need to experiment with what works best.

No set rules, no one size fits all. It really does depend on the teacher working with her students. It is just fine to turn the book on its side, experiment with what works for the individual.

Foldables are three-dimension notebooks, and the concept of gluing them into the notebooks is relatively new, doing so without cutting and snipping. A foldable is a way of organizing text. The concept is on the top and everything unfolds in a pattern or a sequence. Patti notes that some students really do not like foldables and she feels the need to honor those students with some alternatives.

Sticky notes can be used to create interesting foldables, but she suggests using tape because the sticky dissipates over time with use. Three dimensional Venn diagrams/foldables are powerful tools. You can add synthesis to the foldables by asking students to list what they know, what to know, can question, are uncertain…

After the video, take notes. Rewatch the video.You can use videos and foldables, but Patti says not to have them use the notebook during the video segment(s) but rather after. Give students a purpose for watching, but keep them tuned to the video.

You can also set up your notebook prior to the video viewing. Suppose you want your students to understand vocabulary. Have them set up the vocabulary in their notebooks, and then watch the video. Then add the definitions. Then watch the video to check for comprehension and accuracy. Using videos for comprehension for vocabulary gives them a different level of watching the video for purpose.

The possibilities for using foldables for exploration even before reading or viewing is very real. If you have students set up the foldable beforehand with an agree or disagree approach, students get to voice an opinion prior to reading and viewing. Then they can visit the content, reflect, synthesize, and work with the foldable at the content level, determining how accurate their original opinion hold up to content. Or not. What is fascinating about this process is the opportunity for student self-exploration and then their interaction with the text, whatever the text may be.

Patti reminds her audiences that Discovery Education has a wealth of vetted resources, and they are media rich as well. Reminding us to dare to change and try something new does set us up to fail at some point, but so what. Yeah, failure. We learn from our mistakes. Failure is not an option, but we learn from our failures.

In selecting resources, Discovery Education has sounds, images, videos, video segments, tech books, articles, primary source texts, music, worksheets, and an unlimited amount of interactives and explorations for students to use. One of my favorite resources is the Discovery Labs. Patti says virtual labs are tied to real-life experiences, and they need to create a plan to solve a lab problem. Why not have them write that in their notebook, charting that plan out. A wiser use of synthesizing the virtual lab experience.

Is there a difference between notebooking and journaling. Absolutely. Notebooking is collecting information; journaling is reflecting on material. Both can be done in the same place, but both should be done, all the time.

Patti offers guidelines for notebooking and journaling. She draws on her ten years of experience as a food scientist in industry. You worked in a quadrile notebook, you numbered pages, you did not white out. An error received a single cross out, and you signed each page. If the classroom mimics real life, then notebooking is a great way to begin with Patti’s rules. She advises teachers to keep their own book for many reasons, and suggests criteria, but reminds us it is a tool for students to learn. At the end of the year, save notebooks from students of all abilities; don’t just keep the pretty ones. In that way, students will not be intimidated. Make it THEIR way they learn, gather information, and process it.

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