I have my students get 3-subject notebooks for their ISN's. In high school, a 1-subject just won't hold it all. We go through a lot of topics and activities so a 3-subject really works best. They got their syllabus on the first day of school (Thursday) and had until Monday to get their notebooks. I bought a bunch of extras in case students forgot. That way they could participate in each activity and wouldn't be behind. I made their notebooks a grade (10 points). If they used one of my notebooks, they could either pay me back or replace it to get their points. Believe it or not, I'm STILL out about $30...but I digress.
On Monday, we worked on our cover pages. I printed out strips of paper that had their class title (Algebra I, Advanced Geometry, or Algebra A) and another strip that says "Numbers about Me." These strips were in fun fonts so they got to choose one that they liked best. Then they got to choose their paper. I had cardstock, colored paper, construction paper, and even wrapping paper which they used to put on their cover. Their task was to write 5 numbers that represented them. A lot of students picked their birthdays, graduation year, etc. A lot were generic but some were pretty creative. I was impressed. Once they made their cover page, I then taped it with packing tape to make it more sturdy. Below is an example of my cover and links to pages I used for their labels (feel free to download!).
Algebra I Notebook Labels
Numbers About Me
Tuesday we started setting up the inside of our notebooks. On the inside cover, they taped their ISN Rules and wrote their calculator/clicker number (that way they won't forget when it comes time to use them). Their rules are simple and are a good reminder of what they should be doing in their ISN.
Their first 4 pages are reserved for their table of contents. Here they keep track of each activity we do. Everybody has the same information on the same pages in their notebooks so everyone's TOC is the same. Each day, I have them write the unit number, page numbers, and activity title in their table of contents before we start. I've done it where it's their responsibility to keep up-to-date with it and that's a mess. It's a big organizational thing for me and I think them having the exact same content will be beneficial for them in the long run.
The next 5 pages are reserved for their vocab. I call this section Words Worth Knowing. With each activity, they have a couple of vocab words that aren't major topics in the activity but are still important to know (like "substitute" is an important term with properties of numbers, but specific properties are not listed here). Once student fill out their TOC, they turn to their WWK section and write down the vocabulary and definitions here.
Page 1 is where their syllabus is located. I wanted their syllabus to be informative but interesting looking so its something they can look back to when they have a question about a policy or something. I wanted to put the most important information on here since it's the first item they received from me this year. I also wanted their parents to look at it so they could know what was going on in my class so I made a place for them to sign (10 point assignment).
Pages 2-3 are where we put the Classroom Expectations and More Class Information pages. These are things that are really important, but I didn't want to overwhelm them with it on their syllabus. I passed out these papers and went over them on the 2nd day of school so they knew the expectations earlier than the 5th day of school. We put the More Class Info page and Class Expectations on page 3 and did the High 5 activity on page 2 (why I did these this way will make more sense later).
More Class Info
The High 5 activity was pretty fun and they did a good job with it. They had to trace their hand and use information from the syllabus/expectations to write 5 things that they think will be the most important things for them to remember about my class. Some kids listed the rules since I have 5, but a lot of kids were actually creative and wrote things they knew they needed to remember. The biggest one was what to do when they don't have an assignment to turn in (but that will never happen, right?). This was another way to reinforce rules/policies/expectations without droning over it for the first week of school.
ISN Info Pages
In the very back of their notebooks we made pockets so they have a place to keep their loose papers until we get them glued into their notebooks. I call them iPockets from something I found on Pinterest. They like them for the most part. Some kids were mad because I had them rip out their dividers that had pockets from their notebooks if they were not directly in the front or back. I didn't want them to have a random pocket in the middle of their notebook but they didn't understand that concept.
So that's how I set my notebooks up! I had a lot more things planned for my notebooks, but to save time and start on content we skipped on those. In a high school setting, I think this is plenty. Stay tuned for more ISN pages soon!