|They get to pick their own color!|
The first 2 years I was teaching I had to go through a program called BTSA so that I would be eligible to make my state issued teaching credential a "clear" credential. Having a clear credential means that you have your credential to teach for life, (as long as you pay the state to renew it every 5 years.) Anyway, I was in a seminar one meeting that I visited an elementary school teacher's classroom and saw what she called her "Common Notebooks." She was using then specifically for science.
Each student was issued a 70 page, 1 subject, wide ruled, spiral notebook. Throughout the year they would draw, make experiments, write their findings, take notes, etc... What a great idea! She said they saved her a ton of time; everything was in one confined space, and it cut down of paper everywhere (every teacher's bane of existence: paper.)
I took that idea and ran with it. I go to Walmart every year and buy a 70 pg., college ruled notebook for each of my students (125-150 ea. year.) Then I format one as an example so that they can format theirs. This one notebook contains sections for all 36 weeks of reading logs (5 ea. week) all their journals (25) class and unit notes, Literary terms and lastly a chapter summary section for one of the two novels we read during the year. It takes the kids almost a week to format every page of this book, in pencil, by hand. It is a lesson in being precise and following directions. By the end of the year every one of the 140 pages, back and front, are full. When I want to grade, say, reading logs, I just have them turn to a certain week (wherever we are at the time) and hand them forward. It is so easy to grade and input into the grade book. Each year I have perfected the format: less pages for vocabulary, more for journals or more for class notes, less for chapter summaries. And at the end of the year the students get an actual grade for the notebook as a whole. If they lose the notebook (which I have had a couple of students do) they have to recreate them and everything in them to get the grade. Needless to say, these notebooks become very precious to the kids.
But before they format theirs, I must format the original. I do mine in pen (no mistakes allowed) so they can see each page on the LCD overhead as they copy the different sections. It is laborious. My hand hurts when I get done. But like I said, it saves me so much time, it will be all worth it.