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On the 7th Day of Tech-mas...

Updated: May 31, 2023

On the 7th day of Tech-mas, from my EdTechs, I took ... an interactive digital notebook!

Distance learning has created a multitude of challenges for teachers to overcome. But leave it to teachers to take every challenge head-on and design innovative, effective solutions at every turn.

One distance learning challenge for teachers was to send all or nearly all assignments to students digitally. As a high school science teacher, in previous years we relied heavily on students completing assignments in a composition notebook. This allowed for students to make connections between concepts by referring back to activities and assignments completed earlier in the school year. I was that teacher who visited print and copy services nearly every morning to pick up my copies for the day. Distance learning presented a major roadblock to the traditional hardcopy notebook and assignment format. Yes, we could send students home with a hard copy notebook, but how would we monitor their progress? How could we give timely feedback or help students through a computer screen on a notebook we couldn’t see? Enter the interactive digital notebook.

My first encounter with digital notebooks happened to be this blog post which provided a ton of examples for how to use digital notebooks in a variety of subjects (it’s got some great ideas, check it out!) This really got my creative juices flowing! From there, I continued to create and revise different notebooks until I found a setup that worked best for me and my students. By switching to interactive digital notebooks, I was able to create meaningful and engaging digital assignments for students and as a bonus, save some trees in the process.

This may just be one technology shift that will continue post-distance learning!

If you are just getting started with digital notebooks, I would recommend watching a few of the multitude of YouTube videos out there to get you familiar with how teachers use them in your subject area. There are a few different platforms on which you can have students complete their notebooks, but I think the most popular is Google Slides.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way from using digital notebooks during distance learning:

  1. Don’t make the files too fancy or too long. Some students have difficulty loading them if they are too intricate.

  2. Having digital notebooks does not mean that all assignments must be completed on the computer. Allow students to handwrite where appropriate and insert a picture of their work. (This is particularly helpful with math problems.)

  3. Create different notebooks for different things. In AP Biology, my students are working on many different things at a time. They have digital notebooks for a variety of tasks.

  4. The Google Slides add-on Slip-in-Slide has been amazing for my team because it allows us to add notebook pages (Google Slides) to their individual files after it has already been assigned to students in Google Classroom

  5. I’ve found that almost every activity I previously had students do on paper, they can complete in a digital notebook. Card sorts, graphing, graphic organizers, foldables, drawings, and creating models are all possible in a digital notebook with some modifications and a bit of creativity.

One of the best parts is, so many digital notebook templates are already made! Here are a few of my favorites:

Stay Techie,

Aly Hoffman

Science Teacher

Central Valley High School

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