What Are Interactive Notes, And Why Should You Use Them?

Interactive Notes

When you give your students notes, do you notice that about half do a great job listening, but don’t write anything down while the other half does a great job writing things down, but aren’t really listening?


My interactive notes solve both these problems while giving students opportunities to engage in, talk about, and apply what they’re learning while also helping them develop the skill of identifying and recording critical content. As an added bonus, there is absolutely NO CUTTING OR PASTING!

Here’s how they work…

Students are given a note taking sheet that organizes their notes, but only gives a limited amount of space to write so they learn to identify and record only the most critical content. Not recording everything won’t be a problem because they will only write after they hear about, talk about, and think about the content.

Before you start delivering the content, review the rules of interactive note taking with them:

  1. When the teacher is talking, pencils down – NO WRITING!
  2. When directed to, turn and talk with your neighbor or group.
  3. When directed to (at the end of the slide’s content), consider what is the most important information and record it in the appropriate space.

Each set also begins with some focus vocabulary terms that will be used throughout the presentation. Infusing content area vocabulary into as many lessons as possible and in as many ways as you can is a vital step in Marzano’s 6-Steps of Vocabulary Instruction (look for more about these in future posts!).

Progress through each slide. When I give notes, I like to add a lot of stories, jokes or interesting facts as I go – this is where you add your own creativity and flair to make it interesting and exciting for your particular group of students.

There is always an activity at the end that gives your students an opportunity to apply or extend what they have learned. It is also a great opportunity for you to see what connections they are making or misconceptions they may be having.

If my interactive notes sound like a good fit, CLICK HERE to visit my store and see what I have available in World History (topics from Early Man to the Renaissance) and American History (topics from Native America to the Civil War)!

Interactive Notes