Integrating Interactive Notebooks into Chemistry Courses with Nora Walsh

text: Integrating Interactive Notebooks - A ChemEd X Talk with Nora Walsh

Interactive notebooks (INB) are a useful tool to help students interact with course content, and show them the flow and evolution of a course - particularly in courses that may not have a textbook. On July 11, 2022, Nora Walsh shared tips and advice for integrating interactive notebooks into chemistry lessons. Nora has been using interactive notebooks in her chemistry I classes full time since 2015. In this ChemEd X Talk she spoke on everything from organizing your classroom for notebooking to how to plan layouts, general and specific ideas for input and output, and some ideas on grading/scoring interactive notebooks. This Talk builds on the ChemEd X posts Nora has been sharing outlining each of the units in her course notebook. Nora plans to share her entire year's curriculum for a Chemistry I interactive notebook on ChemEd X. 

After Nora's district went textbookless, she needed a way to control the flow and organization of content to provide structure for students while still allowing space for them to be creative and make their own connections. Interactive notebooks have worked well for her. If you are ready to try it, you will find a wealth of information and resources in this presentation and the other content she has been publishing here on ChemEd X! But, even if you aren't quite ready, as Nora states in her first INB post, "You could always give 'interactive handouts' if you aren’t ready or don’t want to commit to full-blown notebooking for the entire year, or you can pull isolated activities, diagrams, foldables, or handouts to use in your classes." 

ChemEd X Talk Recording: Edited video of Nora's ChemEd X Talk, ChemEd X Vimeo Channel - (7/12/2022)


We recommend you watch the recording above for the most benefit but you can also view Nora's Google Slide Presentation

The periodic table that Nora uses inside the front cover of her notebook is from the homepage of (Scan the QR code at the right to access if you like.) She also references both her Table of Contents page and the Blank INB Page she uses when students forget their notebook in the presentation. They are available below. The image above is also available as a Google Slide to help students set up their notebooks.

For the units written by Nora, see our ChemEd X INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK COLLECTION.

PDF icon Interactive Notebook Table of Contents

PDF icon Blank Interactive Notebook Page

In her first ChemEd X post about interactive notebooks, Using Interactive Notebooks in Chemistry - Stoichiometry, Nora provides some backstory on her process. Below is a complete list of the units she has published so far (we will continue to update this list as she adds more). A grading rubric and templates for foldables are included in each of these units. 

headshot of Nora Walsh

About Nora

Nora Walsh teaches on-level, honors and AP Chemistry at FJ Reitz High School in Evansville, IN. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from Emory University and a master's degree in secondary science education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She began teaching in Chattanooga, TN in 2004 and moved to Evansville in 2006 where she continues teaching at Reitz. She has been an AP Reader for the past two years, and has presented webinars for the American Association of Chemistry Teachers in the past. She is active on the AP Chemistry Teacher and National Chemistry Teacher Facebook groups, and enjoys sharing resources that other teachers find helpful. (You may be familiar with her document Write This, Not That on the AP Chemistry Exam). She also has a TikTok account that she uses for bite-size chemistry review (follow her @reitzchemistry). 

To offer comments or ask Nora questions about this Talk, please log into your ChemEd X account and enter it below.

To find the schedule of future ChemEd X Talks as well as more recordings of previous Talks, see the ChemEd X Talks schedule.


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All comments must abide by the ChemEd X Comment Policy, are subject to review, and may be edited. Please allow one business day for your comment to be posted, if it is accepted.

Comments 10

Stephanie Rathsack | Thu, 07/14/2022 - 12:43

Hi Nora,

During your presentation we were talking about type of glue to use and someone said something related to a bottle cap?  Did you figure out what they meant ?

Also - Unit 0 - Sig Figs Accordion Booklet - on legal or ledger paper (yours is yellow)?

Sorry so many questions.

Thanks, Steph

Deanna Cullen's picture
Deanna Cullen | Thu, 07/14/2022 - 17:55

Someone did mention Tap N Glue Caps and offered an Amazon link. See the quote below.

"I got a set of these glue bottle caps, so students just need to put a dot on each corner of a piece using liquid glue. Seems faster and less wasteful than tape or gluesticks.

Another attendee offered this comment about glue:

I use glue sponges so students do not use too much glue or tape...

Thanks for the question! I had intended to include these links in the original article!

Stephanie Rathsack | Mon, 07/18/2022 - 19:59

Thanks Deanna !!

Tasha Froelich | Sun, 02/05/2023 - 15:32

To keep the glue bottle caps from clogging up, remove the glue cap and using a Q-tip add a little bit petroleum jelly to the inside of the cap.  Return the cap to the glue bottle. 

This was a tip I learned at a Dinah Zike workshop.

I have found that the larger the glue bottle that my students have access to the more glue they use.  I buy the 2.5 oz bottles and they last all semester.  I just refill them when they need more glue.


Deanna Cullen's picture
Deanna Cullen | Mon, 02/06/2023 - 09:31

Thanks for the tip, Tasha!

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Sat, 07/16/2022 - 11:21

Hello Steph! 

The sig figs foldable is on regular printer paper, but I like to use lots of different colors so this one is on yellow paper.

I believe I used half of a sheet of printer paper, cut hotdog style, for that foldable.

The questions are great - if you have more, feel free to keep asking!


Stephanie Rathsack | Mon, 07/18/2022 - 20:02

Thanks Nora !

Kathryn Kula's picture
Kathryn Kula | Wed, 05/10/2023 - 07:30

Nora, I love your interactive notebook concept (and your Tik Tok) and I've been using it all year with my college prep level class. I appreciate your generosity in freely sharing these materials. Is there any chance that you will be posting materials for either acid-base or for nuclear? We will be doing those two units between now and the end of the year. I put together materials for a solutions unit on my own, and it was not as good as the other units where I used your materials. Before I reinvent the wheel, I was hoping that you might be making your materials available soon.

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Thu, 05/11/2023 - 21:38

Kathryn, I'm so happy to hear that using the notebooks has been helpful for you!

Yes, I will have them available soon. I'm working on Acids and Bases now - I hope to have it to my editor by Monday. I think you should be able to get it next week. I should be able to follow up pretty quickly with nuclear - I just updated it for my classes today so I should be able to write it up after I get Acids and Bases submitted.

Keep an eye on social media and I'll post it when it goes live!