How to Use Interactive Notebooks in Social Studies

After years of teaching online, I returned to the classroom a few years ago.  I had read so many blog posts about interactive notebooks, but I just couldn’t get myself to use them.  I mean, just how did those teachers get the kids to cut and glue quickly?  I could hardly get through the reading and notes. 

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Then my daughter informed me that she needed help studying for the end of course exam in civics.  She hates social studies, and in true middle school fashion, she decided to tell me 10 days before the exam that she had been failing the practice exams.

I threw myself into creating a civics review notebook for her and her friends.  I was so surprised at how much the girls seemed to retain.  (Side note:  they earned top scores on the exam.) As my 5th grade class covered many of the same topics, I decided to try the interactivities in my classroom. 

I could not believe how much more involved my students were in social studies.  Not only did the notes take less time, but the students complained less as well!  That was all I needed to jump into interactivities.  I have had reluctant students tell me how much they like their notebooks – one told me he liked seeing how much he learned!

If you are wondering how interactivities can be used in social studies, here are some ideas:

social studies

Timelines are usually a standard in most grade levels.  Interactivities can be used to create a wide variety of timelines.

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I always like to do a lot of mapping.  Time and time again I have seen students learn about a place that they cannot find on a map.  With interactivities, I can seamlessly integrate more mapping activities.

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I know many teachers have to incorporate writing into social studies.  With interactivities, teachers can create activities or ask students higher order thinking questions.

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Cause and effect is another concept that is frequently taught in social studies.  Using interactivities helps students to visualize the cause and effect.

I hope this gives you a few ideas about using interactivities in your social studies classroom!  Do you have any terrific tips for using interactive notebooks?

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