Digital Interactive Notebooks Feature a New World of Opportunity

Interactive notebooks have been around for years and years, if not several decades. Digital interactive notebooks, on the other hand, have just recently burst onto the scene. If you have yet to experience these wunderkinds of content and technology, you are simply missing out. They are amazing!

A paper resource morphing into a digital resource with the text "Digital Interactive Notebooks Feature a New World of Opportunity" on top, and The Colorado Classroom logo in the bottom left corner.

Color Reigns Supreme

Digital interactive notebooks allow you to blend the best of paper and technology into a unique and engaging activity. No longer do teacher’s assignments have to be in boring black and white. No longer do we need to conserve ink and eliminate color. Now we can splash color all across the screen. Students can engage with assignments visually. The colors help students to organize and understand information in all new ways.

Color, influenced by culture, emotion, and symbolism stimulates and affects the brain and how you feel. Many articles go into this relationship. In America, colors such as blue and green can produce a calming effect, while red creates anxiety and panic. Whereas in China, red is considered lucky and good.

Digital Interactive Notebooks features a page from Alexander the Great with a reading and annotation tools in bright and bold colors.

Colors are also associated with recall. Math Giraffe has a great article on how color affects student learning. Green can influence efficiency and focus, while blue is more for productivity and higher level thought processes.

Some students associate different colors with different subjects or topics. Those colors can then help them to remember words, objects, phrases, and more. One way I use colors and help students organize and understand information is through annotation tools. In all my digital interactive notebooks I use the same annotation tools, so that students come to know and expect that facts will be in gold and vocabulary will be in blue. I also include transparent bars for highlighting, but give the students the freedom to use them however they choose.

I also like to illustrate things as much as I can with art, pictures, maps, and more. Humans are, by nature, visual so the more visual representations that the eye takes in, the better the brain processes the information and categorizes it.

A Digital Lens

Another unique ability of the digital interactive notebook is the ability to zoom in and out to get up close with the material. As students enter text, they can change fonts or re-size text to ensure that information fits. The screen and view, can also be adjusted so that everything is always visible.

Collaboration Provides Opportunity

Work Collaboratively with Digital Interactive Notebooks shows two girls working together around one computer.

Digital Interactive Notebooks also allow for multiple students to all work on the same project at the same time. Simply assign multiple students to an assignment to create a collaborative group which will work together to completion. By giving them editing rights, this group will then be able to add, comment, edit, and proof each other’s work. You can do this with an entire class as well and have, for instance, a reflection board, where everyone must place an observation on the shared virtual board.

An example of this could be a reading with questions. By assigning this to a pair of students, or a group of four, you allow the kids to work together to annotate and read the passage. They can then each take a turn answering a question, or pair off and answer questions together. It allows for flexibility and creativity when creating a collaborative group.

Journey Into Whole New Dimensions

Yet another wonderful feature of digital interactive notebooks is how they’re multi-dimensional. Unlike a piece of paper which is two-dimensional, or a project, which is three-dimensional, a digital interactive notebook invokes many more dimensions. It can be two-dimensional and just be words on a screen, or three-dimensional and involve dragging and dropping items. But it can also involve sound, video, and more.

Journey into whole New Dimensions with Digital Interactive Notebooks shows a 2D shape turning into a 3D shape into a 4D shape.

I know when I create digital interactive notebooks, I often find I have time and space to be more creative with my teaching. The paper version of my Alexander the Great lesson features two articles, two maps, some notes, questions, and a look at the Pharos lighthouse at Alexandria. The digital version includes all of that but also adds more. There are annotation tools. A mini article talks about Bucephalus the horse. Students can learn about Aristotle and reflect on art, and there’s even more. The digital version simply creates nooks and crannies of time and information that just don’t fit on a two-dimensional piece of white paper. This is also visible in my Mesopotamia Governments lesson where students build ziggurats and complete mapping exercises that wouldn’t be possible in the paper version.

Digital Interactive Notebooks Let Your Students Shine

With digital INBs students can create work that involves the spoken word. They can produce videos. They can make art with almost anything and upload and embed it. What would have taken my generation weeks and thousands of dollars to produce several decades ago, can now be made in just a couple hours with what’s in your pocket. It’s incredible, and it allows us to spotlight the diverse talents of students with just the touch of a mouse button.


If any of this sounds exciting to you, sign up for my newsletter below, and you will receive a free digital lesson that you can try out for yourself. You’ll be able to see how many amazing new opportunities a digital lesson creates for your students!

The Colorado Classroom signature "Brittany" with a globe.


Ancient Greece Alexander the Great cover image for resource.

This post featured examples from Alexander the Great and the Spread of Hellenistic Culture, a paper and digital activity.

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