Cut & Paste- Old School Style

So many people have responded and pinned my first post on how I use notebooks in my classes that I thought I would give you an update. I still use these notebooks for both freshmen biology and Anatomy & Physiology (upperclassmen). I am using the same setup as discussed in the previous post. I love having them grade each other’s (according to an easy to follow rubric). It saves me time! Having said that, I don’t really check for “right” answers. Most of the work we do in the notebooks in enrichment/explain in your own words type work. I will walk around and help while they are working and from time to time do a spot check by grabbing a notebook out of the box. But honestly, I’ve never had an issue with a kid not at least trying. And when they have questions (which they often do because some of the activities require them to think differently than they are used to), THEY ASK! So here are some of the types of activities we used this past school year. Some of these are from workbooks, so I can’t post them here, but I will share whatever I can…. feel free to “reinvent” them for your own students!

Pre-unit Assessments: Have the students take some sort of little assessment at the start of a unit to see what they really know. It’s just as much for them to see their growth as for me, so why not share the results with them? This particular example was at the very start of the Anatomy class. They have to label which section of the body each part is in (A,B,C,D,E). By the end of the year we cover them all.


Enrichment/Check for Understanding Activities:

Organelle Flip Books: Pretty simple. Fold strips of paper so that they fit inside of each other. Label the flaps. Staple them at the top and glue the booklet in to the notebook. Then on put a description and a picture above the label. I try to push them not to copy the description out of their book, but to put it in their own words.


Labeling Diagrams: I use these a lot in Anatomy. After we’ve been working on the parts for a few days I will have them try to label a blank diagram (and usually not the exact one we already went over) in their notebook. I tell them to try without their notes first, but of course use them if they really need them. It’s another way for them to assess their own learning and see where they need to study more.

Here’s one of the docs: Carpal Tarsal Labeling


Describe the Function: Sometimes (like the digestive example below) I will print out all the parts of whatever system we are on and pass them around. Each student takes three and has to describe their functions. The second example is a little deeper, they have to describe the parts of a part in the flip book. They also had to draw the part themselves!


Body Part Relationships: In this example, they have to give three pairs of muscles that work together. They give the names and the functions of the muscles. You could do this with any body systems.


Word Maps: There are two ways I do this. The first is to put a concept map on the board, or give them a paper to copy (I only make enough copies for one class and can reuse them each year). Sometimes they have a word bank, sometimes they don’t. They have a few minutes to fill it in and then we go over it or I make them show it to me before they can put their notebook away.

The second, and their least favorite way, is I give them a list of words and tell them to create their own map. We usually do this type of activity at the end of a unit, so they are important terms for the upcoming test. They can organize the words in whatever way makes sense to them, but they have to be able to explain it to me.


Review Questions: Another end of unit activity, I come up with several short answer questions and pass them out. Each student takes three and answers them in their notebooks. This is a good way for them to judge how well they understand the topics and how prepared they are for the test.


Information Scavenger Hunt: I put questions in the boxes. It is usually information from the notes we did the day before. They have to go around and get the answers from each other. They put the initials of the student who gave them the answer in the box.

The example below is for the reproductive system. I really love it for this topic because it gets them more comfortable saying the words out loud… and that’s half the battle!

Term Scavenger Hunt


Review Worksheets: Lots of fill in the blanks and crossword puzzles. These are activities they can do in the first few minutes of class.


Word Parts & Examples:

We set two pages aside at the start of the year for word parts. We add to the list as the year goes on. The anatomy list includes terms of movement. Each student gets a few pictures (we did these ones the year of the winter Olympics) and has to identify three movements using our terms.


Of course I am always looking for new activities and ways to improve my notebooks. I recently came across a blog post on Interactive Notebooks with some great ideas! Two things in particular I love are the Parent Reflections and Teach Someone Something forms. It makes me nervous for students to take their notebooks out of the room, but I know that it would be a valuable activity and I love letting parents in on what they are learning.

teach-someone-something-form    parent-reflection

As always, let me know if you have suggestions, questions, or comments!


5 thoughts on “Cut & Paste- Old School Style

  1. I feel like a corporate shill because I rave about these all the time . . . I bought a class set of Tap N Glue caps for my school glue. You replace the normal cap on the glue bottle with these, and it releases the glue as a small dot. (Students have to press the tip down on their paper to release the dot of glue.) It took my high school kids a surprising amount of time to figure out how to do it, but once they did, my glue consumption went down by at least half. If you do use them, the only caveat is that every once in a while, you have to unscrew the cap to let more air into the bottle, because the cap creates a vacuum of sorts that collapses the bottle and makes it hard to get more glue out. had the best prices on the caps when I bought them last year.

  2. Thank you so much for your blog!! I begin my first year of teaching on the 10th, anatomy and biology. I am feeling excited, overwhelmed, nervous and so many other things I can’t even pinpoint. I have been searching for a blog that will help me organize my thoughts and get me on the right track. I am so appreciative for all of the resources you are providing, I feel like the way you teach is exactly what I am striving for in my classroom. How can I make students see that anatomy and biology is relevant and exciting? You have given me so many ideas! I am looking forward to all of your posts. What do you do the first week of school? Is there a specific activity you do to introduce and get your students excited about the topics?

    • Thanks so much for the love! I still remember all those 1st year butterflies, and can tell you I still have them…. try to channel that energy into excitement and your students will feed off of it! The thing I love about anatomy and biology is that is LIFE! Whether they are studying to be a dr. or just planning to live, it’s relevant! Bring that concept in right away and you’ll be fine!

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