Monday, July 1, 2013

My Favorite Things: Composition Notebooks (plus a freebie!)

It's a little crazy how much I love composition notebooks. What's not crazy is why I love them.

Composition notebooks have it ALL going on. They are small, have hard covers, there is no wire to catch on an unwary sweater or create little jagged edges that flitter about when I'm collecting work. They are cheap. You can cover them with stickers or duct tape.

Mostly I love how sturdy and compact they are.

I also love that I found a new use for them this week. I occasionally tutor students. I've tried a few different ways of keeping my students' work organized, like folders or binders, but haven't been happy with the way that folders seem to get destroyed and papers in them crinkled. I decided that I'd like a central place to  keep everything my current student needs in one location. Enter the composition notebook.

I needed a place for my kiddo to keep his word sort cards, so I glued a large envelope to the inside cover. It folds over on itself to keep the flap from opening and spilling out the contents.

Each day we meet I write a "Bigger Brain to-do list" so that he can keep track of what he needs to work on for the coming week. You can get your free copy of the to-do list shown here for FREE!! (just click here).

This particular kiddo needs to work on fact fluency, so I give him lots of games (Math Pickle, anyone?). The directions aren't always easy to remember, so I always glue them onto a page in the notebook. Then I paperclip any activity sheets needed right to the page as well. Below is a picture of the instructions and activity sheets for the perimeter game I blogged about here.

I love word sorts, which are great for kids that need a boost with phonemic awareness (especially big kids!).  Speed sorts are part of the homework I give, and here my current student wrote down his times for me from his last speed sort. It will be fun to look back at his times at the end of summer.

Lastly, I like to keep anecdotal notes from when he reads short stories or articles to me. I keep the notes right in his notebook; I read him what I write each time, so that he knows what he is doing well and what he needs to work on next. I don't have to try to keep track of my notes on him.

Some of my favorite uses for comp notebooks besides tutoring are Reader's Notebooks (or reading journals), free-write journals, math notebooks, poetry notebooks, science journals, and student/teacher communication books.

Do you use composition notebooks in your classroom? What are your favorite ways to use them?


  1. I agree. Composition notebooks are ten zillions times better than spirals. My kids come to school with 2 comp books, 2 spirals, and 10 folders. All I really need is 5 comp books. Seriously, what is one to do with 10 folders? 10? It's crazy. I like your idea for tutoring. I saw someone used comp books for homework too. Same theory of keeping it all in place. Smart cookies! :)

    The Teaching Thief

  2. I teach in a Catholic school and haven't seen a spiral notebook yet! You are right as they are nearly indistructible! Needless to say, I use them for everything :)
    Love the envelope glued inside the cover!