We all know that if students are organized and keep a notebook it, can really help ease anxiety for quizzes and exams. Assigning a small part of your grade to a notebook can really help in this regard. We all know students rarely do optional work; so if you’re not grading it, they’re probably not doing it.

Here are a few strategies to help them out:

  • Discuss a notebook with students on day one. Don’t assume they know or have used on in the past.  Share an example. If you think a loose-leaf binder is best, say that. If you prefer a spiral notebook and folder, say that.
  • Students who prefer to keep notes on tablet or laptop can provide electronic evidence through screen shots, a USB, a shared file or folder, etc.
  • Provide a Table of Contents to help them understand what should be in there, syllabus, specific handouts, notes, and homework.
  • Make the notebook grade attach to Notebook quizzes. Meaning they take a quiz with notebooks allowed. They will learn quickly that an organized, complete notebook leads to a better grade.
  • Provide students with a template for taking notes from their online homework or learning system. They take notes in class, they need to take notes when having class with themselves online. For online classes, they can post a photo or scan of the notebook pages completed.
  • In a face to face class collect notebooks on test days. Have a specific rubric of 5 things you are looking for scored 1 point each, with 5 points total for the test coming from the notebook. Use this as extra credit or as part of the test grade. For example, for Test One: 1 point for the syllabus, 1 point for class notes for ____date, 1 point for Homework for ____ date, 1 point for list of tutoring hours, 1 point for handout #___.

The notebook does not need to be worth a lot of points to make a big impact.

A couple carefully planned opportunities to reward students for good organization go a long way in increasing their confidence and success on quiz and test days!