Back to Spanish Class: Getting Started With Interactive Notebooks

August 3, 2017 admin
Sometimes in teaching, it’s the little things that create the biggest headaches. Paper can be one of the those things: lost papers, late papers, loose papers. And of course, all of that means lost time. Many teachers are turning to interactive notebooks as a solution. INBs can be a streamlined process of keeping everything in one place, through student-created materials. 
Here in this post, you’ll find info on getting started and some examples. (If you are thinking INBs aren’t for you, read 5 Common Myths on Interactive Notebooks— just in case.)

Sometimes you just need to see an idea in action. We’ll start off with some videos showing interactive notebooks from different teachers.

Videos of Spanish Interactive Notebooks

A tour of my (partially put-together) Spanish 1 Interactive Notebook:

Spanish 1 and 2 Interactive Notebooks from Angie Torre at Best Powerpoints for Spanish and French:

Interactive Notebook Flashcards from Sherry at World Language Cafe

General Advice for Getting Set Up (not specific to Spanish):

Online Resources for Spanish Interactive Notebooks

Emilie from Island Teacher has great resources for Spanish Interactive Notebooks. Check out these two in particular: Tips for Starting Spanish Interactive Notebooks, part 1, or 7 Essentials for Spanish Notebooks. 
At Spanish Mama, I’ve got you covered on What Not to Do with Interactive Notebooks, and a peek into my Spanish 1 notebooks as well

PBL in the TL for Spanish 1 Interactive Notebooks

Lugar Para Pensar

Prepping Interactive Notebooks for the School Year

1. Choose a kind of notebook (composition or spiral bound). 
2. Decide on sections for the notebook. (Will the information be entered chronologically? Divided by Units? Or will you label sections like Vocabulary, Grammar, Songs, etc.?) If you choose just to enter chronologically, you might not need a table of contents.

3. Think through your teaching philosophy and anticipate your needs. The idea is to create a notebook that fits easily with your style of teaching and your specific goals.

  • If you teach with IPAs, you may like to do sections by units, with can-do statements at the beginning of each unit. Each unit section might front-load vocabulary.
  • If you do storytelling, figure out a system for recording target structures and attaching printed stories, embedded readings, etc. 
  • If you follow a textbook, perhaps label your sections to align exactly with the book, so that students move easily between the INB and book. 

4.  Decide on how you will grade the notebooks (if at all). Some teachers have rubrics in the notebooks, and do periodic checks. I only grade on content, but other teachers count creativity and appearance as well.

5. Decide whether the students will take them home or leave them at school, and if so– where.

6. Prep some visuals to maintain the TL in class. Consider keeping a master table of contents you can project and point to, outlines to follow when there’s no foldable or printable. If you keep a master teacher notebook, it’s easier to model and stay in the TL. 
7. Prepare the most essential pages ahead of time. Think through a system for recording vocabulary, bell ringers, notes during class, etc. Sometimes trying an activity yourself helps to be realistic about your expectations.

8. Define your expectations. Is your main goal efficiency in the activities you choose, or is organization and neatness a top priority? Will you plan to use them everyday, or just as needed? Will everything go in the notebook, or only essential information?

I teach without a textbook, we do lots of acting, storytelling,
talking, listening to music, and reading. Having all the essentials in
one place helps give that cohesive feeling to our learning, and is
helpful to show to inquisitive parents or administration.
I don’t always
know where the year will go, as classes vary so much. It’s been helpful
to have something we can tailor entirely to our interests and needs.

I would love to hear what other resources and ideas you have found helpful!



  • MV August 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • MV August 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I love this post! Where do I find spiral notebooks like the one in Angie's videos? Thanks!

  • Elisabeth August 3, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I will ask Angie and let you know!

  • Unknown August 23, 2017 at 6:11 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Odile July 26, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Thank you for an excellent post!

  • Erica November 3, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you so much. I'm excited to see the children's reaction to this great idea.

  • lamaestraLourdes December 9, 2019 at 2:53 am

    This is absolutely fantastic! We are finishing the school year here in Australia and I started to think about 2020. We have a book that so far is divided in some sections (teachers before I started there introduced this), but I struggled to really utilise them properly, I feel I had students kind of jumping from section to section and it did not help much students that struggle with organisation. I started to wonder how to use sections better for next year and luckily I came across this post. Thanks for sharing!

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