A Classroom View of Using Interactive Notebook Pages

Nora Walsh in front of classroom with INB

I had a great time leading a ChemEd X Talk this past week on using interactive notebooks in the chemistry classroom. I always love discussing ways to share content with my peers. During the question and answer part of the presentation, several people asked about how the delivery of content looks in my classroom and they suggested that watching me teach using interactive notebooks would be helpful. In this blog post, I share an overview of how I use interactive notebooks during class. I have included a few video clips showing how I deliver content to the students.

Direct Instruction / Choral Call

I’m sure that we all use direct instruction and choral call in our classrooms regularly. Interactive notebooks are another format for scaffolded notes that students fill in as they follow along with the delivery of the content.

In the Video 1 below, I am walking students through the Atomic Symbol foldable, that I use to teach students about isotopic notation, including the information to be gained from atomic number, mass number, element symbol, and charge. A picture of this foldable is shown to the right, and it is available for download in my atomic structure unit.



Video 1: Direct instruction for Isotopic Notation


Posted Web Resource

Another way to have students find the information they need to fill in information in their interactive notebooks is to guide them to a webpage that covers the topic. I like using this method because it teaches students how to find information they need from the internet, but by providing them a single source (or two or three), you are still ensuring that they will find accurate information that fits your standards. Watch me direct students to a webpage in Video 2. 

Video 2: Filling in a foldable from a posted resource


For backstory about how Nora uses interactive notebooks, view a recording of her ChemEd X Talk: Integrating Interactive Notebooks into Chemistry Courses with Nora Walsh and read her previous post, Interactive Notebook Unit on Stoichiometry. Other posts outlining Nora's interactive notebook units: Scientific Reasoning, Science of Matter, Atomic Structure, Periodic Table, Bonding, ReactionsStoichiometryGas Laws and Thermochemistry

Guided Reading/Flip Instruction

Sometimes I have students complete the input side of a spread at home, and then we do a practice or activity in class the next day. I haven’t ever done notebooking with flip videos (although I do think it would work nicely), but I have had students do a guided reading input page at home. This is similar to the posted web resource mentioned above, but the prompts are tailored to a specific source.

An example of this from last year was my introduction to covalent compounds (see Video 3 below). We had already covered ionic bonding and naming and the purpose of this page was to introduce how the bond is formed as well as covalent naming. Students began the guided reading in class and finished it for homework if necessary. They also practiced differentiating between characteristics of ionic and covalent bonds. The next day, we did a warm-up to see if they had grasped the concept. Students were able to demonstrate mastery of this skill and then we went right into Lewis Structures. In this way we were able to save in-class time for a skill that is more nuanced.

While this page is less physically interactive (there are no manipulative components on this page), I like to think of it as interacting with an online text. In addition, it has students practice the skill and then check their work using the same online source. You could introduce more interactivity on the page if desired; for example, by using an exact copy of the practice problem boxes to create layers of the problems and answers. This sets up the cover and reveal scaffold for practice problems that I mentioned in my ChemEd X Talk.

This page, and all of my bonding unit, will be available for download later this fall. 

Video 3: Using Online Text to Complete INB Page


Videos / Virtual Labs

There are MANY great videos that you can have your students use to mine information for their interactive notebooks. Some of my favorites are Bozeman Science, TED-Ed, Reactions (from ACS) and Professor Dave Explains. I use these videos with my notebooking in a variety of ways: often I use them as an introduction to a topic, sometimes I use them to provide relevance for the topic in their day-to-day lives, and other times I use them as a summary or a refresher on day 2 of a topic. In Video 4 below, I have students watch the TED-Ed video, What’s the Difference between Accuracy and Precision?, to fill in flaps comparing the two terms. Students then apply that information in practice flaps underneath the terms. (This is spread 2 – Meaningful Measurements from my Scientific Reasoning Interactive Notebook Unit.)

After watching the video and applying the information from it, students go on to work through a virtual lab that I created. There, they get information about taking valid data measurements in the lab and record this information at the bottom of the page.

The video shows an example of how you can use notebooking to structure student work time, and the way in which notebooking can tie together two tasks that students might not have otherwise connected.

Video 4: Filling In Page with Video and Virtual Lab



Sometimes the best way to have students begin to understand a concept is to interact with it using a SIM. In my experience, stoichiometry works best with this kind of introduction. There is an excellent PhET Activity called Reactants, Products and Leftovers that my students use to fill in Spread 1 of my stoichiometry unit (shared in my Interactive Notebook Unit on Stoichiometry).

I love the AACT and PhET SIMs and the learning outcomes that can be gained from those activities. I use them frequently, including in my Gas Laws unit (Spread 2 – Gas Laws/Gas Properties) and also in my Acids and Bases unit (which will be published later this year).

I do not have a video of a SIM introduction to share at this time; however, I usually just open the SIM on my interactive whiteboard and show students how to navigate through the options, outline the expectations of how I want them to fill in the foldable/components on the INB, and then let them explore at their own pace. The next day, I will use a warm up or some kind of in-class activity to make sure that students gained the correct information from the activity.


Occasionally I will use a lab as part of an input page (although typically if I’m going to have students use a lab in an interactive notebook spread, it is the output part of the page). One topic with which I do use lab data as part of the input page is radioactive decay.

During our lesson on radioactive decay, we use candy to model half-lives. On the input page students take a Fun-size pack of M&Ms or Skittles and spill them from a cup onto the (covered) desktop until they all are logo-down. The data are recorded on the input side of the page. On the output side, students graph the data and then answer questions about the data and respond to some extension questions. In this way, students get to use a physical model to explore a concept and then apply their experience to extend their comprehension of the topic.


These techniques above are not the only ways in which to present information to your students while using interactive notebooks – any method that utilizes a guiding document can be easily included in an interactive notebook classroom.  I hope seeing the way I present interactive notebook activities in my classroom has helped spark some ideas to use in your own.            

Join the conversation.

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 1

Chad Husting's picture
Chad Husting | Thu, 07/21/2022 - 13:48

I plan on trying this with a class this fall.  This helps so much.  Thank you!