Binders Beat Interactive Notebooks

Inside: Binders in Spanish Class. Why Binders are better than interactive notebooks in Spanish Class.

a portion of my own binder collection

Why Binders are better than interactive notebooks

This year I have seen many people hopping in the interactive notebook train. While my crafty heart thinks they look like a lot of fun, I have decided to stay firmly in binderland.

For those of you who have read for a while, you know I have a slight binder obsession. This is how I personally stay organized with lesson materials, sub plans, and everything else. Update see Sustainable Spanish Lesson Planning

It is also the method that I have used for the three years to try and help students stay (or learn to be) organized. For those of you who are 100% paperless, cheers to you, but I am not there yet. I actually thought of abandoning it all together with 1:1 and not giving a lot of paper materials, but posts like the one below from a former student remind me why we keep on bindering. 

a former student made my day telling me how I taught her to use binders
(notice she is taking Spanish in college:)



Why I use binders in Spanish Class:

Binders give freshman a tool to be successful

  • My 8th grade Spanish I teacher required a very specific binder that she collected frequently looking for exact notes. While I am not this extreme with my own students, she taught me how to label and sort everything from her class in a manner that made sense. She taught us how to use this organized tool to keep our lives together so we would have everything together to be able to study for cumulative exams.
  • From then on I had a separate organized binder for every high school and college course. A lot of people just expect freshmen to have it together and not lose things, but not many actually give them TOOLs to be successful. This is just one option that they can possibly continue with in the future. 

Binders are life-long organizational skill

  • Post high school I do not think your office boss or university professor will be too impressed with you cutting out the meeting agenda and gluing in a decorated office composition book. Making a shiny binder with printed dividers on the other hand looks a tad more acceptable in the real world. (Yes, I know that many people have have great results with interactive notebooks, but this is not a skill that I see transfering as well outside of a language class). 


Binder Organization in Spanish Class

  • In my syllabus I request the following from each student (and also tell them if they can not get it I have extras).
    • 1in. basic 3 ring binder
    • 8 tab dividers
    • loose paper
  • If you expect students to put items in a 3 ring binder, you should hole punch everything you give them (setting on the copy machine) & also have a 3 hole punch available for students. I have a tray of loose paper as well, so if a student is out, they can just get more without disrupting anything. 

Binder Tabs for Spanish Class

  • Every year I have changed what the labeled binder tabs are. I just know I usually have more than five, so I learned to request the packs with 8 tabs. This year I am planning on having the following (they will be in Spanish):
    • Para Empezar (bell ringers),
    • Handouts (helpful resources such as unit plans, syllabus, useful expressions)
    • Vocab (where they write down target story structures, new words to them or words they are interested in – not given any lists),
    • Notes (for the occasional “write this down” moments, NOT extensive grammar notes)
    • Reading (for choice reading log & activities concerning novels)
    • Listening (materials for movies and El Internado)
    • Writing (to keep free writes to see how they have grown)
    • Paper (extra loose leaf paper)
  • I hand out a mini supply list day 1 with these listed. 
  • Week 2 we have a set binder day where I show students how to set up a binder including labeling tabs and showing them how items go Behind the tab. At first students will constantly ask which section items go in, but they will get the hang of it. 
  • I also plan on teaching digital organization with Google Drive’s folders. 
Some students really embrace having a way to keep everything together since we do not use a textbook. Other will just shove everything in the front folder by the end of the year, but at least they have everything together!
Thank you to @MmeFarab for the request for this post. Is there something you would like me to write about? Please let me know!
How do your students stay organized?

**Update As of 2021 I no longer require binders and hav not for a while since almost everything is on Google Classroom

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