My Favorite

This post is about “My Favorite” as part of the #MTBOS blogging initiative.  This is a hard one, because I have a lot of favorites!  I really like the lessons on the Math Assessment Project.  The tasks are so well thought out and promote great student discussions.  I recently started using a Google Form for warm-ups and really like how that’s going.  I feel like it allows me to easily do real-time formative assessment.  However, I think the one I’m going to call my favorite for this post will be interactive notebooks which are my favorite for the following reasons:

Organization/ Note taking
This is my first year teaching at the HS level, so I didn’t start out using interactive notebooks, because I thought they were too “middle school”.  Halfway through the first semester, I realized most of my students had no system for taking or organizing their notes.  By using interactive notebooks I’m modeling elements  of note taking like titling topics and keeping related materials together.  I also have them take or glue the notes on the right side and put examples, often times from their homework, on the left side.  This allows them to see the connection between their notes and their homework.  It’s also based on left brain/right brain science

In addition to the connections between notes and homework, the interactive notebooks also give me the opportunity to point out connections between topics by having all topics in one notebook.  For instance when we work on systems I can refer back to our notes on solving equations and the properties of equality to help students make those connections.

Reference/ Studying
I encourage students to use their interactive notebooks when completing homework and studying for assessments.  To model how to use it, I’ll refer them to a page in their notebook when they’re working in class and ask questions.  I also let them use it on a couple quizzes in the beginning of the year, so they see the value in updating their notebooks.   It also gives students a reference they can keep even after they’ve handed in their text book.

I keep an electronic copy of our class notebook using Google Slides.  This allows students who are absent to get the notes they missed on the day they’re absent.  It also helps with the reference/studying mentioned above since the electronic version is posted on our Google Classroom so there’s no excuse of “I forgot my notebook at school”.

Using the electronic copy also allows me to use a kind of flipped model of teaching.  I’ll frequently have students write or glue in the notes or definitions for homework, and then we’ll add examples the next day.  This cuts down on the wait time of students writing or copying definitions, and gives us more practice time in class.

Here’s a link to my classes’ current interactive notebook.:

Note the order may seem a little strange, because I started using them mid-semester.  We went back and filled in topics in preparation for mid-year exams!




My name is Wendy Phillips.  I’m a computer scientist turned math teacher.  I love math, and as I tell my students, I strive to get them to love it too (or at least tolerate it).  I taught middle school math for ten years, and this year I’m teaching Algebra 1 at the high school level.  I’ve also taught at a summer program for gifted students and at a community college, so I’ve taught students from age 5 to age 50+!

I’m currently working as a 5-12 math curriculum coordinator, so in addition to teaching one class, I also develop curriculum and support teachers in grades 5-12.  Being in this position allows me to see how well thought-out the progressions of concepts are in the Common Core Standards.

I’m starting this blog mainly because I’m part of the #MTBos blogging initiative, but I hope it will become a place for me to “discuss” topics related to math education.  Some of the things currently on my mind are using interactive notebooks in math class (love them!), student engagement, homework,   and grading (nothing to controversial, right?!).

You can follow me on Twitter at: @CalwayPhillips