Interactive Notebook / LapBook for irregular verbs

English Irregular Verbs … Every English Language learner I know and anyone that has ever been a learner of it can tell you numerous stories on how boring and torturing it has or it had been to memorize the past tense of the irregular verbs in English! And just when they thought they had been over with this long list, there came the third column with the past participle, only to make matters worse, more complicated and more boring! Well, being an English Language learner myself back in the … (let’s just say) years of no internet or any other realia in the classroom, I can still remember these long afternoons with my mum dictating the verbs, me writing the two columns and then studying the whole list again to memorize what had not been successfully memorized … ugh …

 

Being a huge fan of interactive notebooks and having already used them in tutoring my daughter (plural nouns, demonstratives, subject/object pronouns and possessive adjectives), I have decided to exploit their educational and recreational value in order to create a lapbook this time! Using an A4 size folder with a rubber band, we created together a lapbook that was actually fun to make, engaging to fill in and easy to use as a resource or revision! First, we started cutting and gluing the templates that I had made for this reason (after categorizing the verbs in terms of their irregular forms, I created a template that would best serve our needs)! You can download the templates here and print them in colour A4 size paper, if you like:

Then, using our course book, my daughter filled in the past tense and past participle forms of the irregular forms while flipping each piece of paper!

Interactive Notebook / LapBook for irregular verbs

The categorization of the verbs helped her a lot to first guess the form and then verify it with the help of her course book! Therefore, she said that she studied them while doing the task! When she finished, she decorated the cover of the folder and kept it in her bookcase, saying that she prefers to study them from this lapbook rather than the coursebook! A few months later, she decided that it would be more helpful to stick it on the wall, so that she can refer to it more easily when needed! And, in case you wonder, no, she did not memorize everything perfectly in one teaching session, but she liked studying them this way and she does not sigh in despair when we refer to irregular verbs and that is awesome!

 

Lapbooks in general have proved to be the kind of materials that

  • help learners achieve a higher level of retention,
  • can be adjusted to any curriculum,
  • are able to drift learners along paths of excitement and creativity,
  • motivate learners to write,
  • involve all learners, of all ages and levels and
  • portray the learner’s personal taste, making them thus more attractive to use and objects to take pride in!

 

These are only some of the benefits of lapbooking, as they have been presented in numerous articles and, anyone who regularly uses them, has probably a few more to add! Yes, it took some time to categorize, set up the templates and print everything to be ready for the lesson, but the actual cutting, gluing, filling in of the correct forms and decorating took no longer than a teaching hour that would have probably been even more entertaining and involving if we had the chance to work on it in pairs, or in a group! Therefore, this is something that we can probably try with the 5th and 6th grades of the Greek public Primary School, provided that we can obtain the necessary materials and maybe do some cutting on our own, before introducing the activity to our learners, so as to keep it restrained in one teaching session!

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Don’t you feel excited when somebody brings you a present you had never expected at all and you could not believe you would like, or need so much? Well, this appears to be accurately descriptive of my current relationship with the interactive notebook approach! It’s like a new colourful, fun-filled toy that everybody likes to play with and you, the teacher who has prepared it, know that it is not just entertaining! It is meant to help others learn in a more engaging, attractive and interactive manner and you (will) love every minute of its designing and crafting!

After trying to help a learner with demonstratives, it is time to play and learn with my daughter, who has been a bit confused with object pronouns and possessive adjectives use and expressed her desire to have an interactive notebook, like my niece’s! Here is how she has been presented with the grammar rules:

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

After reading and playing with the rules, she moves to the next pages that have big flowers with petals that can move! Reading the sentence in the middle, she makes her own, complete sentences by using the correct pronoun or adjective! Then, she checks if she did well by flipping the flower petals!

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook - Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Interactive Notebook – Pronouns / Possessive Adjectives

Apart from attributing a colourful and playful atmosphere to her notebook, my daughter loved the fact that she enjoyed grammar practice this much and has expressed her desire to add more pages like that! Having tried the interactive notebook method in only two cases this far, it has been noted that it initially appears to give the teachers the opportunity to reflect on their students’ learning styles. Additionally, it seems to allow teachers to evaluate and analyze their learners’ understanding of new concepts, giving them ample grounds to modidy and accommodate their teaching accordingly. Finally, the fact that learners are not involved in the actual designing and crafting, brings up the element of surprise during the lesson and allows more time for grammar introduction and practice for the individual learner.

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Have you ever had one of those days during which everybody in class has understood the grammar taught (even commented on how easy it has been), but one or some of your learners seem unable to put it into practice, as they do not remember when to use what? Well, in the public school context, cases like that are normally approached during the break, where learners can be guided individulally and introduced to various ways that will assist their learning (graphs that help them remember, course book pages that present grammar, worksheets for extra practice, links to related online interactive games, etc). If we are lucky, the learners that need our guidance stay at school until 4pm, like we do, and we can work on their problematic areas at their own pace, through role plays, songs, even crafts that will make their learning life easier and more pleasant!

Having said (and done) all these things, right when you think you are a cool teacher that helps her learners get better at English, you see something cooler than what you have been doing all this time! In the afore mentioned challenging case, the cooler approach seems to be far more attractive and bears an attractive name: an interactive notebook! Have you seen these wonderful, colourful, flippable, removable notebook pages that not only present things in English, but also allow you to interact with them and practice? Google search “interactive notebooks” and you will be flooded with articles on their theoretical background, templates, printable patterns and exemplary ideas that will blow your (and your learners’) minds!

Having read all about them and trusting colleagues who have repeatedly used them (Aphro Gkiouris, for instance, who has been a warm supporter of this approach), the first attempt took place at home, as an experiment, exploiting my niece’s aversion towards demonstratives (this, that, these, those). Although she had clearly understood the difference among them, she had been having difficulty in using the correct demostrative while producing the target language! That was when she was invited to take advantage of the … super powers of her own notebook!

Having prepared cardboard cut-outs and printed everything we needed, I glued everything on her notebook which looked like that:

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

She had the opportunity to visualize the rules by … opening the purple windows:

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

When we opened the lilac envelope, she found colourful pieces of cardboard paper, showing an object or objects with hands pointing at them from near or far away from them:

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

And, then, she could play and interact, by placing each object in the correct envelope, based on its number and distance from the hand:

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Interactive Notebook for Demonstratives

Answering potential questions that may arise after this presentation it is worth noting that: * Yes, it was time-consuming to prepare, but paper-crafting was fun to do, as my daughter kindly offered to help!
* No, it does not cost a lot, as cardboard paper and glue are not expensive. If you do not have a printer, you can always employ your art skills which may give a more personal style to the end-product! * Yes, she got everything right, and, no, we did not have to refer to the grammar rules again! * Yes, she loved it! She clearly stated it and also expressed her willingness to go home and play some more with it! * Yes, it seems addictive! I cannot stop thinking on ways I could adopt this approach in a public primary school classroom with about 20 learners per class (a highly challenging task, all ideas and suggestions are welcomed!!!)