Left side activities for interactive notebooks

Do you know how students learn the most from the left side activities in their interactive notebooks?

The left side activities of interactive notebooks is sometimes the most hands-on experience for most students. It is also the most fun. On this side, students participate more with their learning.

They are more active in completing questions and offering feedback. Amazingly, students like to collaborate more with each other, as well.

Problem-solving or searching for answers are easier for students with these simple activities. As a matter of fact, interactive notebooks help students not only become active learners but to ask questions as they are learning.

What are some ways you can implement left side activities?

Here, I show you some samples of many different types of activities. Use these left side activities to supplement instructional lessons. You might use them to differentiate instruction in an inclusion classroom.

Whichever way you want to use these activities, these samples are merely a suggestion. Also, use many of the left side activities as part of student-directed questions.

Regardless, you determine how to use the activities in your classroom. Perhaps, some students prefer to read the material than provide input. Or, they need a directed prompt question to think about what’s next in the reading.

Either way, you are the best teacher to know what’s best for your students.

left side activities

Ideas of input left side activities

Warm-Ups or Question of the Day

One great left side activity is to use warm-up or question-of-the-day (QOD) prompts.

When these prompts are used at the beginning of a lesson, students reinforce their prior knowledge. This is also evident after a lesson when you cover important information.

Help students understand the material in small pieces of information by using brief prompts. Instead of having a mindlessly question and answer session, you can use the warm-up or QODs to involve students.

In this way, warm-ups and QODs motivate students to ask questions.  

left side activities
left side activities

Essential Question

The essential question prompts are other alternatives of left side activities. Where warm-ups and QODs are used to reiterate prior knowledge; essential questions are used to build curiosity.

For instance, questions that introduce cause and effect or compare and contrast produce critical thinking in students to develop new ideas.

KWL charts

KWL charts are used in many subjects. Increasing students participation is very easy with KWL charts. As a matter of fact, KWL stands for Know, What, and Learn.

As you can see, KWL charts are very versatile guides. You can prompt questions such as what you know, what you want to know, and what did you learn about a topic.

Place them around the classroom as anchor charts or on the board. Student simply write their knowledge about the topic.

More importantly, KWL charts are great tools. They initiate teacher-directed questions.

They are used with videos, introductory materials, brief reading passages, or cartoons. As a matter of fact, I’ve used KWL charts in my class to introduce lab safety and key vocabulary.

left side activities
left side activities

Agree and Disagree Cards

What a great way to start a lesson with a little debate! If you’re using Agree and Disagree cards, then you’re in for some class excitement.

First, initiate enthusiasm and curiosity about the lesson for the day. As students enter the classroom at the beginning of class, distribute these cards. Once everyone has settled and ready with his or her notebook, you can prompt a question, video clip, or cartoon.

Next, you can give brief instructions on how to use the cards:

  • Read the question or watch the video
  • Teacher will count 10 seconds (more if you need to)
  • Raise your card to agree or disagree with the statements

To make it more interesting, use the cards as extra points for a quiz or assignment. Students will sure to engage and build curiosity about what they are learning.

Ideas of output left side activities

Exit Tickets

A traditional way of output left side activities is exit tickets. Although there are numerous templates of exit tickets, you can use them effectively to gain students’ perspective about a topic.

Make sure to give students enough time to complete the exit ticket. Also, it helps to give feedback after they have shared their ideas. For more engagement, have students exchange and share with their partners or classmate next to each other.

left side activities
left side activities

3-2-1 Summaries

Finally, summaries are a powerful tool for students to draw conclusions as they’re learning. Three parts make up the 3-2-1 summaries. 

Each part encourages students to break down the information they are learning. Depending on the topic you’re teaching, you provide the discussion questions.

These samples include prompts which can help students gather thoughts after reading a brief passage. Keep in mind that summaries are for introductory videos or cartoons.

Benefits of using left side activities for interactive notebooks

Interactive notebooks engage students to learn topics in fun ways. With many of these samples, students interact with the material in more than metacognitive ways.

Otherwise, they develop areas of learning that are tedious and boring. They now learn how to become active learners by using simple tools.

Interactive notebooks boost the imagination and learning experience.

Please, comment below: What ways have you found productive in using interactive notebooks?

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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