I love doing things on paper. My to do list and notes from meetings and reflections are very often on paper. I like having kids reflect in journals on paper and take notes in notebooks; however, I’ve enjoyed using Google Slides as digital reader’s notebooks.
They have offered structure that I’ve found supports students and ensures completion of the most essential reflections. While encouraging students to jot thoughts on stickies, draw beautiful pages in their composition notebooks, and write detailed written responses with text evidence can work well for many teachers, I personally found that notebooks were more often than not incomplete, disjointed, difficult to grade, difficult to follow up on, and difficult for feedback purposes. Using these templates in google slides can solve some of those issues or at least alleviate them.
With this link, you can download the powerpoint slides from Teachers Pay Teachers. I’d love for you to give me a review if you like the product. In the powerpoint, there’s a link to the same notebook in Google Slides. From there, I recommend making a copy of the presentation then adjusting the slides to meet your needs. You could re-use bits and pieces throughout the year for different units.
Some of the things I’ve included in the digital notebook include:
Graphic Organizers based off of reading lessons I’ve taught
Thinking Routines from Project Zero’s Making Thinking Visible – all directions are on their website – you can also read more of what I do with thinking routines here
Written Response prompts with sentence starters
In case you’re not yet enticed, here’s why I like using digital reader’s notebooks:
- They have a distinct starting and ending point. You can set how much you want students to reflect and complete for each book or each unit. The notebook itself almost acts as a checklist. They can do additional work on paper, but the slides let them know what I’m assessing.
Google Classroom Benefits
- If you use Google Classroom, you can easily make a copy for each student. You can look at their progress at any time – at school or at home – without needing their physical composition notebook.
- It’s a great way to allow students to independently work with your guidance because the templates and directions are there. They won’t write one sentence in their notebook without a title and then forget what they were supposed to do in the first place (or does that only happen in my classroom?).
- You can put pictures of anchor charts into the slideshow for students to reference (just like you might have them cut and paste it into a notebook).
- You can also set different expectations for different students and give them different slideshows to complete; students have no idea who has what slideshow because the assignment can be titled “Readers Notebook” for everyone which leads me to…
- If students are finished early, they can jump ahead to different slides and prompts without needing to wait for everyone else.
- You can create different sets of slides for different students or group of students which allows for fantastic differentiation. One thing I like to do is just add a slide that says “Extensions” and shift some less vital ones down past that slide. That way, all students have access but for some it’s required while for others it’s optional. This way I also can reference any slide in a lesson without students feeling like they’re missing out on something.
Does not have to replace paper
- I still have students keep reader’s notebooks on paper. These are great for taking notes from lessons, drawings and doodles, sticking in actual post it notes for later, drafting, etc. In general, they are a great place for students to feel safe as they explore their ideas. This also saves space so I can use one notebook for reading and writing and allow for half the work to be done in each area in their notebook and then half to be digital.
Assessment is easier for me
- There are many ways to assess reader’s notebooks. A checklist or single point rubric can work very well. Just checking in with qualitative data is awesome, too! If you’re interested in how I assess, here’s an example of one rubric I’ve used to assess a digital reader’s notebook.
So give it a try! I created a set of notebook slides to get you started. There’s more than enough to use for multiple units, and it’s free!