Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exponential Functions

After our Linear Function unit (which you can find here and here), we jumped right into Exponential functions.  
Our beautiful tabs!
Our learning targets
We started by describing exponential functions algebraically, graphically, and numerically.  Here is the foldable we did.  It is very similar to the one we did with linear functions:
Foldable closed
Foldable opened
Then we did a card sort.  We did exponential vs. not exponential.

I asked them to write a reason for why each card was on the side it was on.  Also after our notes on the base and y-intercept, we went back and found the base and y-intercept for each of our exponential functions.

Next we worked on finding the base and the y-intercept.  Notes with a graphic organizer, which is very similar to what we did with linear functions:

I gave them a practice worksheet.  I thought I was really clever and designed it so that they could easily complete, tape in their notebooks, and view later...

...however I then proceeded to copy it upside-down.  :S

Then we graphed exponential functions.  This is where it because crucial to have studied negative exponents prior to this unit.

I had to do another practice worksheet like the one before so that I could prove that I was capable of copying correctly.
Practice WS outside
Practice WS inside
Our last learning target was on writing equations to model exponential situations.  I gave minimal notes that tied to our learning of linear functions (the y-intercept is the start) and the learning we had done with exponential functions.  We had been wondering and noticing that some exponential functions increase and some decrease, but today I FINALLY made it clear what causes that difference.

I did a stations activity with them.  I had a handout for students to use to facilitate the process and our discussion.  Basically I just had students go to nine stations and write the start and the change.  Then we had a class discussion over the equations.  They seemed to think it was pretty easy, which I didn't really expect...I guess I'm just an amazing teacher :)
Handout that they used to go from station to station
NOTE:  To view files click the appropriate link.  It will open in Google drive; it will not show correctly in drive.  Choose to download file.  It will download the word doc/ppt for you with all of the correct formatting.

That's all I have for now.  I don't feel much like reflecting on the unit right now, so I guess this post is finished :)  Sequences are coming up next!  (Well, actually we've started them.  Post to come after the 20th!)


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Units for Intervention Class

I have been teaching an additional intervention class all year.  This is part of the Tiered Algebra project that our local AEA has been working with schools in our area to implement.  We had been given some guidelines, but not much, for what to do in that time.

  • Connect it to what is happening in the Algebra class
  • Don't just reteach/review what you are doing in Algebra
  • Don't just have "do your Algebra homework" time
  • Do more hands-on stuff
  • Do more explicit instruction
  • Use appropriate scaffolding
  • And others, but that's what I could think of off the top of my head

So here I am, a general Algebra teacher, with very little understanding of how to differentiate in my regular classroom, now seeing 24 of my students twice a day, and doing my very best to make it worthwhile.  But I've been mostly clueless.  I tried to do a lot of pre-intervention with them... (see Micheal Pershan's argument for this type of intervention here) which looked like covering the coordinate plane and plotting points before we graphed linear functions in Algebra, for example.  But I still felt like my students weren't able to use much of what we were doing in a way that truly benefited them in the regular classroom.  Not that I actually had any real way of measuring it...

Then the AEA shared with us about a presentation they heard from a school that has a similar model in 8th grade.  They decided that vocabulary was really important, because IF THEY DON'T KNOW THE VOCABULARY, THEY CANNOT ACCESS THE LEARNING IN THE GENERAL CLASSROOM.  This was an argument I had never heard before.  Now I always knew that vocabulary was important.  And I teach it...sort of, but I've never really emphasized it.  This has changed that.  Along with other things that came from this summary of the presentation, I have changed some things, and I think it is for the better.

I now have week-long units.  These units focus on a particular skill and the vocabulary associated with it.  For example we studied exponents prior to working with exponential functions.  We had vocabulary:  exponent, power, base, exponential, reciprocal, expanded form.  We studied the vocabulary each day in different ways:  matching; create your own example; which could be used for x, which would be used for y; etc.  We also had scaffolded lessons on simplifying exponents.  We started with whole number exponents with only positive numbers.  Then we discussed things such as -2^4 vs. (-2)^4.  We simplified expressions using the order of operations (with exponents).  And finally we saw negative exponents.

I was actually able to see my students apply what we were learning in class (no actual way of measuring other than my observations).  I depended on them to lead the other students when we saw negative exponents.  This felt amazing.  I am excited to continue using this model, although I am very frustrated that it took until November for me to find something this useful for interventions.  Hopefully as I continue to apply it I will see more improvement from these students.

But I am also frustrated by the fact that it is still group all of my intervention students together.  What if student a needs this and student b needs that?  How do I make that work?  How do I know what they need?

Just for an FYI here is an outline of the exponent unit:


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Math Modeling Contest

On of the math teachers at my school (the one who head's up math club), has been doing a 36-hour Mathematical Contest in Modeling for the past few years.   I am only a helper, but when sharing about the contest, it seemed as though many other were interested in hearing about it, so I decided to share what I know.

The contest is put on by COMAP.  Information about the contest can be found here:  It is a yearly competition that occurs in November.  It is for groups of  up to 4 students, and costs about $75 per group.  The competition includes a maximum of 36 hours to work on 1 of 2 given real-world problems.  Each group gets to select which problem they would prefer to work on and they work toward a solution.  Then they must write a paper outlining their research, solution, and weakness of it.  Sometimes there are other things they must include, such as a letter or a memo.

I don't think I can share any of the previous problems on here, but they are good modeling problems.  There is not one solution that is obviously the best.  There are many different ways to approach each problem.  Also the problems are low-entry, so even Algebra 1 students can work on them.  Upper-level students can do more sophisticated mathematics with them, but all students can do something to tackle the problems.

Some things we do at Shenandoah:

  • Students register before hand and pay $10-15 to help cover the group fee of $75.  The rest of the cost comes from the math club account, filled by fundraisers.
  • Students may sign up as a group, or individually.  Most students sign up individually, try to convince all their friends to do it too, and then work out groups with the sponsor once our registration is closed.  Teachers have the final say in groups.  We keep most groups all girls or all boys.
  • Each team is assigned a classroom as home base.  Teachers give consent for their classrooms to be used ahead of time, and the students love having control of the room for the weekend.  They can move things around, but by the time they leave it must be back in the shape it was when they arrived.
  • In addition to all necessary classrooms, we use the FCS room for food and the library and the gym as hang out places.
  • We start at 8am on Saturday so that we can be finished by 8pm Sunday.  Of the weekends the contest is available, we try to choose one where few events are happening.  (Also we like it if it is the weekend before Thanksgiving because then we only have to survive a short week afterwards.)
  • Parents sign up to bring meals.  Several sign up together to help feed the kids for each meal that is needed:  lunch and supper on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.  Most of the teams are done by supper on Sunday, and for those who aren't there are plenty of leftovers.
  • We encourage teams to make good progress on their projects before lunch on Saturday, but do allow for some brain breaks.  We have the gym and the library open for team co-mingling.
  • Saturday night around 9 we play a game in the gym as a whole group (like line tag) and then watch a movie.  Around 1 or 2 am we have lights out and kids are expected to stay in their sleeping rooms until morning.  Most teams sleep in their classrooms, which is why we usually have all girls or all boys.  If there is a mixed group, then they sleep elsewhere.  Teachers "sleep" in the halls.  We choose locations where kids would have to walk over us to get anywhere if they decided to sneak around.
  • That's all I can think of now.  If you have other questions please, please let me know I'd be happy to help!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Negative Exponents by Patterns

Right in between our unit on linear functions and our unit on exponential functions, I did a little "review" of zero and negative exponents.  I tried to teach it strictly by patterns.  Last year I taught the rules and then explained via the patterns why the rules were there.

I start with what students know.  I ask students to evaluate 3^1, 3^2, 3^3, and 3^4.  They can do this and they can even show why it works.  We recorded that part in this table (sorry all I have pictured is the final, but imagine half of it is blank :)

We notice that the the pattern from 3 to 9 to 27 to 81 is times 3 (duh!), but still important to state.  Then I ask students to think about the pattern backwards... Divided by 3!  So we continue that pattern to see 3 divided by 3 is 1 :)  And we have to continue the pattern on the top showing that 3^0 is 1. So then we talk about how multiplying 0 threes (or 0 anythings is 1).  It's still hard for them, but they can see.  I try to draw the connection to 0 in addition  (the identity) and 1 in multiplication (the identity).  But they are freshmen, so that is advanced.  If a few students make that connection from our quick discussion I'm happy.

Then we continue dividing.  1 divided by 3 is 1/3 (yes I have to force them to use fractions--I just say that they will recognize the pattern better if they use fractions).  Then by 1/9 there is a bunch of "oh"s and almost every students (or at least every students who is still paying attention) can say that the next in the pattern is 1/27.

We use the word reciprocal (instead of opposite as they tend to) and come to the rule that to evaluate negative exponents, we evaluate the positive first.  At this point I gave them several problems to practice in their notebooks.

That about sums it up.  If you have other questions about this, let me know :)  Or other ideas to make it better I'd be happy to hear it!!!!


Linear Functions (Part 2)

See my first post on linear functions here.  This is what the rest of the unit looked like:

Above was supposed to be a matching game, but the students didn't enjoy it very well.  I was frustrated, but maybe we should have played bingo like @mpershan (see his post it's trig bingo).  Anyway here is my template.  (To view file open in google docs and download original in word.)  I had each student graph 6 equations before starting, and then pair up with someone who had six different equations and play memory.

Then we wrote linear equations.  Kids practiced a few and then came up with their own.  It is hard to figure out how to think about something that is happening over and over again, so it was a struggle.  Also I feel this is something that is very difficult to differentiate for and provide interventions for....

That was the end of our unit on linear functions.  We moved onto exponential functions!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Linear Functions

We jumped into linear functions this week.  Here are some of the things we did (and by some I mean pretty much my entire week of lessons).

What does it mean to be linear?
I really wanted to emphasize the various representations of linearity, so that students could see how they all work together.  So I started with this foldable to define linear.  I gave them the algebraic and graphic definitions, but we used those to come up with what it means to be linear in a table.
I did this by giving them each a graph of a linear function, with four points marked on it.  (Here are the graphs I used.)  Then I had them in groups of two create a table on the board for their graph.  I was hoping this would help students with the concept that a line is made up of points as we have been struggling with that idea.  Once we were done with that we made lots and lots of observations about the tables.  This took a LONG time.  I let them notice anything, so it took a while to get away from "they all have a 0/1/-2" type of statements into noticing the various patterns that were there.

But eventually we came up with "x and y both change by constant amounts".  I was very happy because in every class students recognized that they could choose any of the tables on the board as an example.  And students were willing to try to think of non-examples.  So each student got to make that part their own.  I know that is the purpose of things like this, but we don't get there often enough.  It was nice to get that far with this.

Here is the inside.  (And here is a link to the foldable.)
I created a card sort as a way to help them practice telling if something is linear.  I really wanted to get at the fact that linear is a word that describes a group of functions.  So something must be a function before it can be linear.  So we sorted between "Not a Function", "Function-Linear", and "Function-Nonlinear".  It was a lot harder for them than I thought it would be, but eventually we began to get the hang of it.  They still struggle with messing up whether VLT is for function or linear...but one step at a time.
As you can see, instead of gluing the cards in, we recorded the answers in our notebooks.  I hope that students will try to sort the cards on their own as a way to review.


  • My card sort is not perfect.  Two of my tables are non-functions for the same reason, that was a typo...I want to fix that.
  • Also didn't really mean to have the equation x=2 in there because we didn't discuss what makes an equation a function...but it did lead to a decent conversation.  I think I would prefer to replace the card with a linear function that is not in slope-intercept form.
  • One class got into a really good discussion about whether or not y=(1/3)x was linear or not.  Even when b=0 was thrown out as an idea, one student was still adamant that it needed to be written down for it to be in slope-intercept form.  I kept the conversation going for a while and then moved on without giving up who was correct.  While I was talking a student looked to the student sitting next to him and asked, "so is it linear or not?".  Aren't I mean?  The next day I eventually showed them the graph and they all agreed that it was linear.  I also explained that mathematicians tend toward laziness and prefer not to write something if it is unnecessary.
  • I went hard-core with colors in my notes, but students didn't in theirs.  That is something I need to work on being more intentional about.
Finding slope and y-intercept
To begin our discussion of slope and y-intercept, I had students write "what I know..." and "what I want to know..." on the board.  Here is one example:

We used this to jump start our graphic organizer for notes.  Starting with what they already knew, but still getting it into the notes was a win-win.  They got to feel smart for knowing it and I got them all to put it into their notes anyway, especially since not all students knew it.  Here is what we came up with.

I don't think they've seen the slope formula, and I really wanted to share that with them for the Numeric part, but they thought smarter than me and were ready with ideas by the time we got their.  They remembered finding the change in y and x when deciding if the table was linear or not, and figured that would work!  It is really quite brilliant, and I feel lame because I didn't think of it first, but by the time I made it to the end of the day I had abandoned the slope formula.  I want to work back to it for tables that don't have a constant change in x, but still might be linear...we'll see if I can manage that :)

Then we practiced finding slope and y-intercept with a boring worksheet.  But it was quick and worked as a check to see where students were at.  I used my name cards to call students for answers at the end of class.

  • I really wish I could have just had them create their own graphic organizer for this, but I'm not sure I could have been clear enough for them to understand the expectations
  • Once again I went hard-core with color and they did not (but look how cute it is!)
  • The worksheet was boring, but didn't take too much time.  I think that's OK, because I just needed enough for them to get back into things.  I would have done things slightly differently if this was the first time they had been introduced to slope-intercept form.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proficiency Certificates

Because it is the end of the quarter, we had PD on Friday, part of which was some worktime to update grades.  All of the HS teachers at my school are supposed to have an updated "standards" document, that shows the level of proficiency each student has met for all standards or learning targets.  Mine is by learning targets (which are aligned to standards).  I had updated everything in PowerSchool, but needed to update my Google spreadsheet.  As I was doing this I noticed that there are several students who have achieved proficient (or above) on all learning targets this quarter.  I was really excited, so I decided to make little certificates and share it as a #Made4Math Monday :)

I made it up quickly on PowerPoint (it really isn't anything spectacular).  I printed 2 slides per page because I thought little ones were cuter :) Also I printed on green paper because kids love colored paper.  Here is a picture:

Download File Here
What I'm most excited about though is to give them to students.  I have never done anything like this before, but I think this is something worth rewarding.  I didn't consider whether or not they reassessed, just where they were at when the quarter ended.  I really think this is a good way of encouraging students to do better.  I haven't done much all year to encourage grades, and I don't want to start doing that.  Some of my students who have an A or A- will not be receiving one of these certificates because they scored a 2.5 on one of the learning targets.  I'm excited that I feel as though this is encouraging them to learn more rather than encouraging them to get a good grade.  And I truly believe that this is an award all my students are capable of earning.  That is why I am most excited to present the certificates, because I want to tell that to my students:  YOU CAN DO THIS NEXT QUARTER!

- Kathryn

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I'm trying to catch up on blogging...boy has it been too long!  I thought I'd share all the function work that we have been doing in Algebra lately.

Domain and Range:  We defined domain and range and practiced the definitions with tables/mapping diagrams to get them familiar with the words, but the main goal was to give the domain and range of graphs.  After some conversations with the Algebra 2 teacher, we decided to stick with continuous graphs and use compound inequality notation.

To help the students picture domain and range we created a foldable I have been looking forward to since I first read about it last year.  Sarah wrote about it here.  Here is where Sarah found the graphs.

I didn't like that the graphs took 5 pieces of paper.  I have 90 Algebra students, I can not copy that much paper.  I also felt like there was a lot of blank space, so I used my snipping tool and made my own version that was only 2 pages long.  I still only made enough for groups to share.  I numbered them so that they could tell which was the x-axis and so that they could write the domain and range on a separate paper.

Here are my materials:
It is still the best domain/range lesson that I have done.  I love it and plan to do it again next year.  A few things I would change:
  • There are a couple graphs I might switch out for others that were in the original document.
  • My students should be taught compound inequality notation, not just given blanks to fill in.
  • Introduce infinity AFTER practicing with non-infinite graphs.
Function/Not a Function:  At my school we are discussing different intervention techniques through a book study.  Most recently we were focused on vocabulary strategies.  I thought it was time to try out the Frayer model for vocabulary and you can see that below in our notes.  I maybe should have made it larger, but I think it's OK.

To practice determining function/not a function, students did a card sort I first read about from Sarah.  This is probably my second most anticipated lesson that I read about this summer.  Here is her post.  Here is where she got it.  Here is a link to the card sort.

Function Notation:  By the time we got to function notation, I felt as thought I had overused the copier, so I gave some regular notes.  I still tried to color-coat though :)  I used Sarah's notes (different Sarah) as a guide.  We did practice on a worksheet because I had a sub that day.

- Kathryn

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Integer Work

I hadn't planned on doing much with integers and order of operations, because I really wanted to stick to the Common Core curriculum.  However, as things got going I began to see integer operations really hurting my Topics students.  So I decided I really did need to backtrack and do some work with integers.  Here are some of the things we've done so far:

Manipulatives:  We worked with little pieces to show addition of integers.  I made a set of these for each of my students and had them show things like (-5) + 2 and (-4) + 10.  I even encouraged them to show me two things that added to 5 or -1.  They thought that sounded hard, but once they tried they realized it was easier than they thought it would be.  One student even commented "That was easier that it sounded!"  Slowly this has lead to drawing + and - signs instead of actually using the pieces, which is just as valuable.  I think this aligns very well with what the students have seen from the 7th and 8th grade teachers as far as integer addition.

Integer War:  Thanks to Lisa's post, I decided to play Integer War with my students.  I created a file for them to use to keep track that I thought would help see their progress.  I even have a picture of my practicum teacher working with them.

When kids finished their first game instead of asking, "What do we do when we're done?" They were asking, "Can we play again?" And at the end of class in order to get them to clean up I had to say, "I will not write you a pass to second hour.  You must leave now."  I think this was the best thing for them ever.  I even had two students come in during homeroom later to play their 5th game to determine an overall winner.

(With an odd number of students, I got to play a game, too.  I could do this because my practicum teacher was walking from group to group ensuring that they were on track.  Lucky to have 2 teachers in the room!)

Grudge:  Sarah's post reminded me of Nathan's post about the most fabulous game ever.  I had played it once at the end of last year, but had forgotten about it over the summer.  I decided to play with my students.  They loved it!  And it allows for lots of different challenge questions that all kids try because they want to get someone back.   I did have to make a modification this year.  The kids were taking  FOREVER to choose who to erase an X from and get back to their seats, so I timed them and said that if they weren't back in their seats then I would erase an X from them.  This got them scampering back to their seats right away (even if they were out of Xs).

The kids have been asking to play again every day since.  I think that is a good sign.  I want to find a good balance of when to play and when not to, so I keep telling them I'm waiting for the perfect time.

That's mostly what we've done for now.  Next week we will add subtraction of integers and parenthesis!  We might play Integer War again with subtraction.  I think that would be good for them at some point, but we do need some more instruction and "basic" practice first.  I'm looking for good subtraction of integer lessons.  Throw any ideas my way :)

- Kathryn

Sunday, September 22, 2013

More 1.1 ISN Pics

Well, it's been a while, so I have a few things to blog about, but I think I will start by showing you the rest of our first "section" of notes.  I posted what I had previously here.  Now, we have finished up and are working on 1.2, but I figure I better show you what I have...
This is a repeat from the other post, but it is the first page for this LT

Boring "left" side (output), but students created their own steps, not just copying mine.

Students looked up equivalencies on their own/with other students using any resources they could find.  My design of the table is pretty poor, but I have ideas for how to make it better next time...

Under the equivalency table students created conversion rates for 4 of their equivalencies.

As output students did some of there own practice problems.  We used these 8 problems as a gallery walk the next day. 
My Topics students took some notes under the practice problems on fractions.  We developed these rules about what makes a fraction equal to 1.

As you can see, there is nothing spectacular, but I am happy to have a more structured format for notes.  This first unit has been very difficult for me because it is less procedural algebra.  And I am teaching it in a way very unlike what I did last year.  Hopefully as the year goes on everything will improve.

Standards-Based Grading Note
After I assessed this unit, my students were still very low on using dimensional analysis to convert units.  I felt many could convert units, but didn't understand the specific structure that dimensional analysis uses.  I created a very differentiated day of practice in preparation for a class reassessment.  I had a set of extension questions for students who scored at or above proficient, and I had a set of practice questions for others.  I didn't lecture much more, but worked individually with students.  There were some challenging questions and some easier ones, so I could differentiate as I worked with students by guiding them to the problem I thought they should work on next.

The next day we created our own dimensional analysis questions (thanks to @jreulbach's suggestion) and had another student complete it.  I was impressed with how well everyone did with this, and it led right up to our reassessment.  I did not require all students to take it, only those who had scored below a 2.  However I did promise all students that I would not lower their score if they tried it.  Normally I don't do that, but I really wanted more kids to try to do better since I was giving class time for it.

I was thrilled with the results.  Only one student had a lower score (from a 3 to a 2.5), but I let him keep his high first score for the gradebook.  About 10 students scored the same.  These were either low students scoring 1s both times or students who were still proficient.  The rest of the students (40ish) did better and were bumped out of the "required" reassessment range.  I am very pleased to be able to say that I used a summative assessment formatively and reacted to my students' needs.  I don't know that I've ever done anything like that before in my teaching career.  Obviously I wish I could have gotten all students to proficient prior to the first assessment, but in the end it all worked out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Warm-up Calendar

After much inspiration from our #efamath accountability group meeting this week.  I was feeling very down about not having implemented any sort of warm-up for my Algebra students yet this year.  Then came Heather Kohn's Calendar Project post, and I knew I had a solution.  My solution is this week's Made4Math!


Going off of Heather's calendar, I saw a way to easily provide all students with a warm-up problem for each day of class for an entire month!  With our ISNs, I would be able to guarantee that all students would have it everyday, too :)

Since I will be using it for warm-ups, I only included Monday through Fridays.  I also wanted to focus on the difference between solving, simplifying, and evaluating, since I have noticed my students struggled with that in the past.  And since we have also just worked on unit conversions, I figure it would be good to throw some of those in too.  Here is my calendar:

Click image to view the document in Google drive.  Formatting will be funny in drive, but you are able to download original from drive, which should restore formatting.

I did take some questions from Heather's calendar, since we have similar goals, but I changed many of them too.  I also really like her idea of having students create questions.  I might do that toward the end of the month and create my October calendar from those questions.  We'll see how it goes!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Section 1.1 of ISN

I just posted about what I thought my ISNs were going to look like.  This post is here and was written in July, but I didn't publish it until just now.  I guess because I was a little bit scared.  Anyway, as a follow-up to that post, I would like to share what our ISNs look like now that school has actually started.

Section 1.1 Set-Up
As part of our first day lesson, students created 5 numbers about them (I wrote about it here).  Then this week we turned it into their back cover of their notebooks, like Kathryn (not me :) blogged about here.  I didn't give the kids too much time to do it, so we were kind of rushed, but it helped that they already had their numbers picked out.  Here is mine:
 I'm working on covering all their notebooks with packing tape this weekend...what a job!

The first thing we put into our notebooks is on page 5.  I want to do a "title" page on page 1 and a table of contents on page 3, so I had them tape the syllabus onto page 5

And their first foldable was glued onto page 6.  This is about classroom expectations for different ways that we learn in class.  We filled out the inside one part at a time so it wasn't so overwhelming!

The on page 7, we started our first section.  I decided to name all of my sections with an essential question.  Mine aren't great EQs, but hopefully it will put pressure on me to continue improving them :)  So on page 7 we taped in our tab and title:
The tab goes onto the back (so onto page 8) for extra support.  Then also page 8 is our pocket for the section.  So beautiful!  Students have pretests in there already!

On page 9 we put our section TOC and score tracker.  I put the dates into the one that is in my notebook.  But as I said in earlier posts, I use this same template for each student.  I might show off my gradebook in more detail once I get going.  Here is a place for students to track their own scores.
Those things will be at the beginning of each section:  tab, pocket, and score tracker.  We should be able to set them up a lot quicker from here on out since students are more familiar with it now. (I can hope at least, right?)

Section 1.1 Notes (Part 1)
Next comes our notes.  I ended up deciding that it was OK to have input on the left and output on the right.  Hopefully no one will be too upset.  Here is our first page of "real" notes.  Learning target at the top, vocab words flash-card style, and a student-created list of words to use when describing levels of accuracy and precision.

We did a station activity and students had to discuss all 6 stations, but only write a response to one.  Then they handed them in.  The next day I gave them back with comments.  They glued their original onto the next page and wrote a better response below based off of my comments.

We have one more page of notes started.  Here is what that page of notes looks like:
I have an idea about what we are going to do on the next page, but it's not fully developed.  I better get going on that as it will be part of tomorrow's lesson!

Thanks to everyone whose blogs about their ISNs inspired parts of this post.  Your ideas sat in my head for a long time before I could put them to work in a way that I felt was best for me.  I am super excited about the notebooks and how it is already helping with organization!  Students haven't yet asked me for any new copies of things I've handed out :)

Oh wait, I forgot to share how we are storing them.  I am letting students keep them in the classroom.  Mostly because I decided I didn't want to fight the homework battle any more so I will not be requiring students to complete much homework this year. I picked up a trick from our language arts teacher and loved that the notebooks fit in.  Here is a pic from before school started:
Now all the folders have tabs with student names.  I put them entirely in alphabetical order based on last name and placed the tabs in a certain spot based on which period they are in my class.  Easy to find what I need quickly :)  They put their notebooks in before they leave and pick them up again on their way into class the next day.  It is also wonderful for getting needed papers to students who were absent...just slip it in the folder!  But if using to store notebooks, you do need quite a few crates so they are not overstuffed.  I have 4 for 87 students, but I think another one is in order...

Thanks for reading!