Tried It Tuesday: Interactive Notes and Totem Poles! - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Tried It Tuesday: Interactive Notes and Totem Poles!

Good afternoon, friends!

I'm getting ready to have our Curriculum Night (a night where parents come in to listen to me tell them how hard exciting the year is going to be! LOL) but I thought I'd share something we did today- it was too fun!

We're about half way into our Native Americans unit, and my kids are LOVING interactive notetaking. This is a strategy that I've adapted from some training I've had - I took bits and pieces that I liked, and that WORKED for me last year (all of my kids passed the state Social Studies test!) - don't we all do that?? I start it right from the beginning because I have quite a few low readers. The students glue down the passage that I give them (always about the SS or Science topic) on the right side of their notebook, and they do all of their work on the left. The students box each paragraph in a different color, then read the first paragraph quietly to themselves. At this point, either I read, or a volunteer reads the first paragraph aloud. This way, students who weren't able to fully read it can now hear it. Once the first paragraph is read, I ask if there are any words that they didn't understand or need more explanation on- we call these "cloudy words" and they actually draw a little cloud around them. We do our best to use context clues to figure it out- sometimes I just have to tell them. Then, we pull out the main idea of the paragraph- and we DRAW it. We also write phrases, but there are NO full sentences being written, just words and drawings. Each paragraph gets drawn/labeled with the color they used to put the box around it. That way, if they have any question about what they drew or wrote, they can go back to THAT paragraph and see what it was.
This is a very helpful summarizing tool- I have them tell the person sitting across from them what they "wrote" by forming sentences out of the pictures and phrases (almost like they are telling a story). They take turns doing this so, not only are they saying it, but they are also hearing it. It's also a great tool to help them study- they aren't just re-reading a passage I gave them- they are "reading" what they wrote and drew about it. Being able to visualize the text is so important!

And since we learned about the Kwakiutl tribe, and we learned they had totem poles outside of their homes to tell the story of their family, we made totem poles to tell the story of OUR family! :) They are proudly on display for our parents to see tonight!
The page I used came from Frank Schaffer Publications... you know I'd share it if I could!! It was great, because it explained the meaning of each of the animal symbols.
Go link up with Holly for Tried It Tuesday, or just go check out what everyone else is doing! :o)

Also, check out some other great Social Studies ideas over at Fifth in the Middle!
Native Americans Linky


  1. I love everything about this! - cloudy words, drawing the main idea... I have 'favourited' it!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. What a great project! I'm sure your kiddos loved it!

    Good luck with Curriculum Night tonight!

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
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  3. What a great way to make sure they are comprehending what they are reading.

    Kaylee's Education Studio

  4. Oh Jivey!!! Thank you thank you thank you thank you for sharing this!! You have no idea how AWESOME this strategy is gonna be for me this year. Have a 3/4 combo, and can NEVER do SS with both classes at once. While my 4th graders do this, I can work with my 3rd graders. This is a godsend! THANK YOU!!!!

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  5. I love the "cloudy" words-perfect way to describe words they don't know! I've used the color coding paragraphs and I agree...super effective strategy to keep them focused and to reference to by color. I bet YOU and those totem poles were a big hit tonight!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. Great lessons! I still love marking up the text like that as an adult! I can see why your students had such a great time. It really does help you understand and internalize what you are reading. Thanks for sharing!

    Eclectic Educating

  7. Thanks for this great strategy. I really like how you give them a sample of text - I need to do this instead of making notes from our text without a reference for them in their book. You rock :)

  8. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!! I can't wait to get into interactive notebooks and Native Americans.

    Ms. Chae Charges In

  9. This is really great. I love how the drawing support the text--I've got so many students that kind of live by this. The certain colors matching certain paragraphs is an excellent aspect of this too. I have officially stolen this idea for my students.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  10. Love, love, love this! Great idea. I tried your Save Fred activity today and had so much fun! I will definitely be trying this also. Thanks!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  11. This looks awesome!!! We have our parent night tomorrow to get that night over with. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  12. I love this Jivey! What a wonderful way to teach main idea! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Can you tell us the name of the publication you used?
    I totally LOVE this idea!

  14. Wow!! This is amazing! It reminds me of close reading and I will be using strategies like this a lot with the increasing text complexity:) I will have to come back and pin it when I have my computer handy! Thank you so much for your awesomeness!!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  15. This is a SUPER idea. I will absolutely be using this! Thank you for sharing :)

    The Sweetest Thing
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