Bits of Wisdom

The Interactive Student Notebooks are a necessary tool for learning.  Remember that the purpose of this notebook is to make you a creative independent thinker and writer.  You will think in this class with this notebook.  You cannot get out of it or hide behind the person in front of you.  If you cannot read, write, or reason (think), then you cannot be a productive adult or member of our democratic society.  If you wish for all the freedoms that America offers, you in turn must accept the responsibilities that go with it.  One of those responsibilities is the ability to think for yourself.  It takes practice to hone your thinking skills.  Be prepared to practice often in class.

If thinking or speaking for yourself is scary, remember that it’s okay to make mistakes.  (I make mistakes all the time, so you’ll be in good company!)  It is also fine to change your mind.  If a classmate makes a good point, feel free to adjust your thinking.  You will influence others through your viewpoints, too.  What is not permitted is “fence-sitting.”  You cannot stand between two issues and say “I don’t know.”  Think about the issue and pick a side.  Just believe in yourself and your ideas. Above, I mentioned making mistakes.  I believe that mistakes are very valuable.   If you make a mistake, you can learn something from it and grow from the experience.  After all, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes.  It’s better to learn from  your mistakes than to ignore them or keep making the same ones.

I expect that you will grow both physically and mentally this year, and the notebook is one tool that can help.  Many of the assignments will allow you to “shine” and show off your talents and abilities.  Shining is good, but I believe that stretching and growing is more valuable.  There will be activities this year that will cause you to stretch, grow, and assist you in becoming the person you are to become.

Now, stretching is not always fun.  Most people grumble, groan, and dread stretching (myself included).  To stretch causes you to reach beyond your comfort zone and try something new.  Stretching may not give you immediate rewards.  You might stumble or feel slightly uncomfortable, but stretching your mind can bring the greatest long-term rewards.

Remember, it does not take as much effort to shine, but stretching requires guts, hard work, and a “never give up” attitude.  My job is not to let you cruise through class, but to help you become a truly productive and thinking member of society.

Bits of Wisdom (page 2)

You will be asked to share the work you do in class on a regular basis.  You might be asked to share your work out loud, or participate in a gallery walk in which you display your work for others to see.  Although I expect high quality work and effort, I do not expect you to create artistic masterpieces, so don’t pressure yourself unnecessarily.

Please understand that color is a part of the notebook.  It adds life to your work, draws the interest of the readers, and gives you pride in your work.  Many assignments will require color, but some will not.  I also expect that almost all of your right-side assignments have color.

In some cases, you can decide how you wish to use color.  Some people love color, so they write in color, add color around their work, doodle in color---you get the idea.  This can be intimidating to those who do not enjoy coloring so much.. Do not despair!!  Some students write in pen or pencil first, then go back and underline and/or highlight important information to add their color.  Still others refuse to use color--but I don’t recommend this.  If an assignment requires color, you cannot get an A  on it if there is no color.  An A  is for excellent work only, and if you are missing a part of the assignment, the work is incomplete and therefore not excellent.

As you will learn in the days and weeks to come, you will be working hard and doing many types of activities this school year.  I try to use different learning styles and intelligences so the information will stick in your brain.  One of the ways we will learn is through drawing.  Drawing sends some people into a panic!!!, so let me define drawing in my class:  stick figures with clothes drawn on!

Please understand that I personally lack drawing ability; my stick figures may need help, but I always try.  You will learn that trying is one of the most important things in my classroom (and in life).   Without effort or trying you get nowhere.  Also, take comfort in knowing that most of the other students are as concerned about their drawing efforts as you are.  If you are not comfortable drawing, don’t worry.  We’ll also write a lot, too!  If you have no love of writing or drawing, you will also have opportunities to do skits, debates, group work, and act-it-outs.

This notebook will represent you -- your thoughts, creations, and beliefs.  Take pride in your work.  At the end of the year, you will be amazed at the notebook you will have created!