ISTE Standard 4.2 – Module Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

ISTE 4.2 – Students will plan and manage projects with the help of digital graphic organizers

Adjusted Triggering Question: Does it make sense to have students of an online Russian class keep an interactive student notebook? And if so, which format would be best?  What should its primary purpose be (reflection, collection of content about the language such as vocabulary lists and grammar tables, other)? 

If one Googles the term “student interactive notebook,” one quickly finds numerous blog posts, templates, discussions amongst teachers as to their use in classrooms. And there are some definite opinions as to the particular format including which side of the page should be for which purpose and how to organize the tabs and table of contents. (Smith-Sloane, 2014).

It is generally assumed that interactive student notebooks are of benefit because they reduce classroom clutter (fewer loose handouts floating around), because they allow students to personalize their learning, because they are a fairly consistent and easy way for students to assemble a portfolio of their work (if that is a style of assessment that your school values), and because it is assumed that students will retain material better if they take structured notes and because they will understand it better if given the space to process  it in their own way. (Smith-Sloane, 2014) These benefits are generally believed to accrue to paper-style interactive student notebooks.

How about digital? Search as I might, I came up with only a few articles about the potential value of students keeping notebooks in a digital format. Some listed benefits were increased student engagement in using technology and also the potential search function for students wanting to use their notes as a reference. (Knight, 2015)

I was unable to find any articles that discussed suggested formatting for digital books. If I were to ask my students to keep these style of notebooks, I’d be striking out on my own to a certain extent in terms of requirements for structure. I spoke to my son (a 4th grader and consumer of interactive notebooks for two years) and his input helped lead me to a few of the following concerns that a teacher might want to keep in mind when implementing notebooks in a digital format:

  1. Accessibility – can students work in their notebooks from their school computer, home computer, personal device?
  2. Ease of use – is the interface confusing? Can students too easily delete weeks worth of work by accident?
  3. Privacy – Will students be able to see each other’s notes?
  4. Teacher Access – Can the teacher view the notebook with ease? Make group or individual comments within the notebook?
  5. Long-term Availability – Will students have access to their notes even after the course is over? Can the notes be shared or downloaded?
  6. Cost?

There are many providers of digital notebook apps. There are two that I looked at in particular – OneNote and Notebook for Class. After an initial appraisal, here is how they compare:

Снимок экрана 2016-07-31 в 2.36.37 PM

It will take some more playing around with each option to see if one is better suited to the particular class I have in mind over another. One possibility governing the choice is which educational accounts the schools that I am working in already have. Notebook for Class is specifically set up to work with Chromebooks, OneNote is a feature available within Office 365. I would also be eager to hear of the experiences of others with these sorts of digital tools.


Knight, D. (2015, November 19). Why Use Digital Interactive Notebooks? 21st Century Learning – Study All Knight Teacher Resources. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from (Links to an external site.)

Smith-Sloane, J. (2014, March 30). 7 Reasons to Use Interactive Notebooks – Minds in Bloom. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from (Links to an external site.)


2 thoughts on “ISTE Standard 4.2 – Module Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

    1. Thanks! I was realizing that another possible criteria to add would be ease of maintenance from year to year. Can teachers reuse notebooks or set up new classes from year to year with ease and without incurring huge expenses for pro accounts. That *could* be an issue for the Notebook for Class option.

      Liked by 1 person

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