products / resources / teacherspayteachers

Interactive Notebooks for High School

Use Interactive Notebooks in a high school setting to promote creativity, engagement, and analytical thinking. Learn about how to lay out your spreads to scaffold and maximize student output, all while maintaining an organization that helps students use their notebooks as a reference.

Are you looking for ways to use Interactive Notebooks for high school English? When I was first faced with this possibility, I was super excited!, but had no idea where to start. I wasn’t sure if these would be the right tool for my 9th graders. I decided to start off the year with my normal Short Stories Unit, and slowly found ways to transform those lessons to ISN spreads.

Over the course of the unit, I discovered that Interactive Notebooks gave me a great structure for planning lessons, a lot of scaffolding for my students, and very rigorous, focused practice of a new skill before they left me each day.

Check out this 2 minute video to see how I set up Interactive Notebooks for high school English:

Interactive Notebooks in ELA

Use the In-Through-Out method to organize your Interactive Notebooks. This guides the students through the lesson and creates rich independent practice. TeachNouvelle.comTo make Interactive Notebooks for high school more rigorous than a bunch of cut-and-paste foldables on every page, I try to set up every lesson using the In-Through-Out model. For me, this means the following breakdown: “IN” is a bellringer; “THROUGH” is notes, in-class group work, and graphic organizers; and “OUT” is independent practice or homework. This has really helped focus the work I give students – I have to choose the most important part, because it’s got to fit on the bottom half of the left page. That means that Interactive Notebooks actually decrease busy work in my high school classroom – hooray!

I have also facilitated the notebooks in my classroom by taking pictures of my model interactive notebook for our high school class website. I use sticky notes to put the various task descriptions on the page, and I go ahead and paste in all blank organizers for students.

Use the In-Through-Out method to organize your Interactive Notebooks. This guides the students through the lesson and creates rich independent practice. TeachNouvelle.comI also got to teach my favorite Disney song as part of an Irony lesson this year. “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan is the perfect bellringer to get kids thinking and talking about dramatic and situational irony. Also, it’s got a really clear plot structure, so you can go ahead and review that with students, too.

I actually flipped my Irony lesson for the first time this year, and linked Christopher Warner’s irony videos on our class website. I gave students guided notes to complete on the right side of that page for homework, and then they came to class ready to discuss (and read “The Lottery”, of course!).

Use the In-Through-Out method to organize your Interactive Notebooks. This guides the students through the lesson and creates rich independent practice. TeachNouvelle.comI also tried my hand at creating a foldable, popping my list of Lit Terms into an Interactive Notebook for high school-ready list. Even my 9th graders loved these, and it helped them study for a Literary Devices Quiz. I went ahead and updated all of the ELA Vocabulary products in my TpT store to include this option. So, yeah — we do use some foldables in my class, but it isn’t every day on every page!

Find out how I use Tootsie Roll Pops to teach Symbolism!

Lastly, I converted one of my favorite lessons into an Interactive Notebook for high school spread. After reading “The Lottery”, we practice embedding direct quotes and paraphrases smoothly into paragraphs using the Introduce-Cite-Explain method. We do scaffolded practice, and then students work on their own to integrate two quotes. I even created Ready Rubrics to go in the margins of the notebook so that we can do peer and teacher feedback.

UPDATE: You can now find all of my Short Stories lessons in an Interactive Notebook for high school format over at my TeachersPayTeachers store. This unit is ready-to-go with ideas, plans, resources, handouts, student samples, projects, quizzes, and rubrics. I also put together all of the materials I use throughout the year (short stories, novels, poems, and drama) in this Yearlong Bundle!

What are you up to in your Interactive Notebooks for high school? I’d love to hear from you!

Use Interactive Notebooks for high school to promote creativity, engagement, and analytical thinking. Learn about how to lay out your spreads to scaffold and maximize student output, all while maintaining an organization that helps students use their notebooks as a reference.


  • Chris Sexton
    October 15, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Wow, so nicely organized, with helpful foldables and rubrics. Thanks!

  • Leah
    October 16, 2015 at 12:15 am

    I absolutely LOVE interactive notebooks! The In-Out-Through is a fabulous way to structure and focus a lesson. Thank you so much for the generous freebie! I can’t wait to check it out!

  • Lyndsey
    October 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I love this, and can’t wait to use in my class!!!

  • Amy Brown Science
    October 16, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Such great ideas for interactive notebooks! Thanks for sharing your materials with our fellow teachers.

  • Teachers Resource Force
    October 16, 2015 at 4:57 am

    I really enjoyed your post and the freebie, thanks for sharing!

  • Room 213
    October 16, 2015 at 8:55 am

    In, through, out…I love it! Thanks for sharing.

  • History Gal
    October 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I also love your idea of focusing on in, through, out. Having a focus makes creating a daily lesson plan so much easier! Thank you for the special treat!

  • Connie Casserly
    October 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I really want to learn more about making interactive notebooks. Thank you for this lesson.

    Connie Casserly

    • Danielle Hall
      October 16, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Connie! I definitely recommend trying them out for a unit and seeing how it goes. That’s what I did for our first unit, and I was hooked. 🙂

  • OCBeachTeacher
    October 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I love using short stories to teach irony, and “The Lottery” is one of my favorites! Do you use “Story of an Hour” or “The War Prayer”? These two stories are excellent for teaching irony, too. Thank you for sharing!

    • Danielle Hall
      October 17, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      I actually used “Story of an Hour” as my Short Stories test this year. The results were super fun to read. I’ll check out the other suggestion, thanks! 🙂

  • Vanessa Jason
    October 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    These are great! I LOVE that song by the way 🙂

  • Lisa @Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
    October 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I love your way of organizing the notebooks with in-through-out. That really helps me organize my own! 🙂

    • Danielle Hall
      October 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Lisa, I would LOVE to see some of your notebook spreads!

  • Addie Williams
    October 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Wow! Your notebooks look fantastic! Love the idea of In, Through, Out.
    Happy Halloween!


  • Lindsey
    October 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I sent you an email 🙂 I love what you’re doing and I would love to see the ISN stuff so I am following on Bloglovin!

  • Brooe
    March 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I have 135 students daily. How to handle ISN with this number. …

    • Danielle Hall
      March 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hi, Brooke!

      I feel your pain! I have done ISNs with this number of students. My best advice is to choose 1-2 entries per checkpoint that you’ll read, and grade the rest for completion. I’ve never felt guilty doing this because my main goal is for each student to create an individualized study tool/point of reference. I stagger my checkpoints for each class, and I also do a notebook check while my students are testing. You can also try letting students pick 2 entries you’ll read – they can indicate these with sticky notes.

      Hope this helps!
      -Danielle @ Nouvelle

  • […] We’re big fans of interactive notebooks. Check out this blog’s organized, student-centered post about how to use interactive notebooks for high school ELA. […]

  • Kimberly Street
    June 27, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I have an 8th grader who uses interactive notebooks in his class. I have been looking at your examples and am understanding them better (he could only explain his from the student perspective). I would like to use interactive notebooks in my 11th grade American Literature class this upcoming school year but I’m still not sure how to lay out the format. Do you start off numbering the pages then giving students vocabulary? Also, my school utilizes graphic organizers A LOT and I don’t want to confuse/inundate the students with so many different papers/points-of-reference. Can you please offer some guidance?

    • Danielle Hall
      June 27, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Hi, Kimberly!

      Thank you for your question. I lay out each unit as a series of spreads (two facing pages), using the In-Through-Out method I describe in this post. I will email you an example unit sheet. For me, graphic organizers are teacher-guided work, so they would go on the “Through” page. You can have students draw in their organizers instead of printing them, and then they can fill them in directly on the page. Sometimes, if we have an organizer for the course of a whole novel, I will have students use both pages. This still has all of the benefits of an organizer, but without all of the extra paper.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions!

      -Danielle @ Nouvelle

    • Tiffany
      August 5, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Kimberly, I would love to hear how your 11th graders responded to ISNs. I have only used them in middle school, but am teaching high school this year. Thanks!

  • […] Pingback: Interactive Notebooks for High School – Nouvelle by Danielle […]

  • C Poole
    August 24, 2016 at 11:53 am

    This is exactly what I was trying to find. My students have computers now (one-to-one) in the school so I am trying to decide if I make this completely hands on or modify for an electronic version. (Much research is making me lean to the former.) My school also has in place an Essential Question, Know and Do AVID strategy to incorporate school wide. I am considering connecting the In, Through, Out to these: In=EQ, Through=Know and Do=Out to keep to my school’s initiative. Thank you for the wonderful resources.

    It’s amazing the things you can find on Pinterest.

    • Danielle Hall
      September 12, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Thanks so much for reaching out, Christine! I love the idea of using this for AVID, and it’s a great lesson structure in general. As for an electronic version, I hope to start work on that soon. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

      -Danielle @ Nouvelle ELA

  • Veronica Angulo
    November 30, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I love interactive Notebooks. Can’t wait to try this with my students.

  • KR
    June 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Love the set-up. Any tips for streamlining the “gluing and or taping printed spreads to the notebook” process? That has caused time issues in my classroom. Thanks!

    • Danielle Hall
      June 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      I totally get this issue, Kelly! I only use liquid glue and show students how to use a dot at each of the four corners. I have a model notebook, and have had a lot of success with handing out the pieces to be glued and then giving students 2-3 minutes (I play a song) to set up the spread with the title, glued handout, date, any subheadings, etc. Lastly, and most honestly, I design my units with a low amount of “glueables” (max 1/day…some days have nothing). I teach 9th grade, so this has worked well for me.

  • J Eyers
    August 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I loved using interactive notebooks for middle school and am considering continuing the practice as I move to 9th grade. How do you handle students with bigger handwriting or who take up more than the allotted space with this spread set-up? In the past, I had students do the bell-ringer (quick-write) in the back of the notebook and the interactive notes portion in the front of the notebook. Thanks!

    • Danielle Hall
      August 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Hah, this is a GREAT question! So, I do tell students that they have (for example) a half-page for a response. If they can’t make that work, it’s up to them to come up with a solution that is somehow attached to the page (that is to say, NOT a loose slip of paper!). Most of them choose to finish writing their response on notebook paper, and then tape or glue it in along the bottom, folding it upwards into the notebook. On my end, I just flip it down to read the whole thing. Generally, they find this to be the “hard way” and just write a bit smaller. 😉

      -Danielle @ Nouvelle ELA

  • Мы гарантируем выгодные условия сотрудничества, профессиональныеконсультации, широкий спектр предложений и индивидуальный подход.

  • Michele
    June 18, 2019 at 11:07 am

    This a a great idea! Do any of your biology teachers use an INB and if they do, do they use the In-Through-Out method?


Leave a Reply