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. By mid-fall 2022, Nora plans to share an entire year's curriculum for a Chemistry I interactive notebook. 

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 

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 to help students set up their notebooks.

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In her first ChemEd X post about interactive notebooks, , 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). 

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Comments 5

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 !!

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 !