The Digital Interactive Notebook, or "InNo" (pronounced "I know" ... nice, right?), is an idea that I've starting using with my students this year. A friend (and great teacher), James Brightman ( and I had conversation a while back where we came up with the basic idea. He took the idea and made it a lot more concrete. I've been able to try it and revise it this year. It combines some of the best features of paper notebooks and Web 2.0. An InNo entry is kind of like the classic wedding custom of "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” but instead of blue, it’s awesome.

Something old:

  • The first half of an InNo entry is a modified version of Cornell Notes. Students take notes on what they read (or see, or hear), write a brief summary, and write a few questions related to it.

Something new:

  • Instead of students using a physical paper notebook, they use our class wiki and a wide variety of Web 2.0 tools to create their InNo entries.

Something borrowed:

  • Once they have finished the notes, summary, and questions, students find images and videos related to the topic(s). Students cite the sources of these "borrowed" items using MLA.

Something blue, no, wait... I mean "awesome":

  • This is my favorite part of an InNo entry. Students make something original based on the information in their notes. Students can create their “awesomeness” in any way they choose: graphic organizers, hand drawn stuff, slide shows, charts, graphs, comics, movies, etc. Instead of the left and right approach in a paper notebook that TCI suggests, we use a top and bottom approach on our wiki pages. I encourage them to place their awesome stuff at the top.


Version 3.0.0

Here are descriptions / requirements for a great Interactive Notebook entry:


  • Each entry must have a link on your InNo table of contents which includes your user name and the date the InNo was created.
  • For example: InNo gregi1992 08.24.10

Notes (x2)

  • Each entry must have notes that you created.
  • Main points are captured.
  • Notes are well organized, with a new line for for separate ideas, topics, or sections (bullet points can be helpful).
  • Keywords are clearly identified (using bold, italics, color, etc.).
  • Notes are notes and not a word for word reporting of what was said or read (no complete sentences, used abbreviations whenever possible).


  • Each entry must have a summary.
  • The summary contains 2-5 sentences and shows an understanding of the material.


  • Write your own “test” questions based on the information in your notes.
  • Notes contain at least 5 relevant questions, three of which require higher level thinking skills.
  • All information needed to answer the questions can be found in the notes.

Awesomeness (Found = x2, Original = x3)


  • Each piece of thinking, interpreting, interacting, and/or being awesome is connected to the notes with an explanation.
  • All items of awesomeness are well explained and connected to the information in the notes using 2-3 complete sentences for each item.



Part 1: The Notes (bottom section of your InNo entry)

  1. Make a new page/link on your InNo table of contents – make sure it has a unique name, for example: InNo gregi1992 08.24.10
  2. The new page/like should be list ABOVE the old one (so the newest entry is at the top of the page).
  3. Write your notes based on the reading, lecture, discussion, etc.
  4. Do not write complete sentences. Use abbreviations whenever possible.
  5. Use a new line for separate ideas, topics, or sections. Bullet points can be helpful.
  6. Review and clarify – after the reading, lecture, discussion, etc. is done, re-read/edit your notes so they make sense.
  7. Write a summary of the main ideas.
  8. Include any questions you have – what doesn’t make sense? what do you want to know more about?
  9. Add a line ABOVE the notes you've just completed (Insert Horizontal Rule).

Part 2: Thinking, Interpreting, Interacting, Being Awesome (top section of your InNo entry)

  1. Make the notes your own by adding / creating awesome related stuff… this can include: pictures, videos, podcasts, links, quotes, venn diagrams, timelines, drawings, music, charts, etc.
  2. Check out cooltoolsforschools for ideas.
  3. Some helpful on-line graphic templates that may help you enhance your InNo entries: 2-Circle Venn Diagram, 3-Circle Venn Diagram, Bone Diagram, Comparison Chart, Concept Map(elementary), Concept Map(primary), Event Map, Family Tree: Three Generations, Fishbone Diagram, Family Tree: Four Generations, KWHL Chart, KWL Chart, Life Cycle Chart, Process Chart, Research Notes Chart, Spider Map, Story Map
  4. It is important that you do not simply add these awesome things. You must explain the connections to your notes. Why did you add the picture? How does the timeline relate to your notes?
  5. Creating original awesome stuff is highly encouraged (hint, hint), but if you find something awesome that someone else made (picture, video, etc.) please include it.
  6. Citations: All “borrowed” material – pictures, videos, audio – anything you did not make yourself – MUST BE CITED using MLA format. Here are three websites that will help you do it:,,
  7. Use the "Reference" widget to "embed reference marker" to create your citation.
  8. Some days I will ask you to do specific things in your InNo. Other days you will be able to explore the information in whatever way you choose.