Interactive Reading & Notetaking

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July 2019
We are so excited to begin a new school year with you and your students! For the past two years we have been busy revamping our social studies and math notepages & teacher guides. We can't wait to share them with you!

We're not only aligned with the curriculum frameworks but we've added many new features designed to make teaching AND learning more effective, efficient, and easier!

BTW, check out our video! A very talented high school student created this for us! Thank you, Alyssa!

We've had many emails asking when our science notepages & teacher guides will be updated to the new standards. The first year that the 2018 Science Standards of Learning will be solely assessed using state assessments is 2021-2022 for 5th grade, 8th grade, and EOC. The 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 are considered crosswalk years. Items that reflect the 2018 Science Standards of Learning will be field tested during this time. As we know, field test items do not count for or against our students. Our current science CD is still in vogue! For more information go to:

Feel free to contact us with questions, successes, and revelations!

Here's to a terrific new school year of teaching AND learning! Pass it on!

IRN, Inc.

April 2017
We here at Interactive Reading and Notetaking want to thank all of the new schools that have partnered with us this year and have embraced our mission to revolutionize teaching AND learning, and to all the schools that continue to come back to us, we appreciate your support! We all carry a shared mission which is to teach students how to become independent learners, readers, and thinkers and together, we are prevailing!

With SOL testing right around the corner, we want to remind all the wonderful teachers to sit back and relax and watch your students be victorious with swift and lasting gains . . . Interactive Reading & Notetaking is powerful!

This is a very exciting time of the school year and we are very eager to hear back from you with feedback and/or results. Keep up the great work, teachers AND students!

:) The IRN Team!

Very Exciting News for IRN!!

Hello, all,

My name is Michael Donnelly and I have proudly joined the Interactive Reading and Notetaking team. I graduated from Old Dominion University with a finance degree, have had the honor and privilege of serving ten years with the U.S. Marines, and now am committed to the IRN mission of increasing the number of effective teachers, independent learners, readers, and thinkers and to help improve your school’s overall academic status.

I have firsthand experience with the process as I used these reading and instructional strategies in the college classroom myself as a student! I believe my experience and perspective adds even more credibility to the success every student in your classroom can achieve.

My belief in the process prompted me to divert my attention to a more rewarding, reliable, and a much more significant cause of serving students and teachers. Our interactive notepages & teacher guides, along with the strategies, are proven material that really do show students how to learn and how to learn on their own!

Thank you for your exceptional service and relentless efforts as educators and good luck on the SOL tests. I will be anxiously waiting to hear some feedback!!

-FYI, 2016 Social Studies interactive notepages and teacher guides will be released this summer, just in time for the new school year….and we're working on a school success page and a testimonial page for our website.

-Also, a big THANK YOU to the new schools that have implemented our material this year and a huge congratulations for the schools that received 2015/2016 accreditation status since partnering with us! What a moral boost within the faculty, student body, and community, I’m sure! It’s the multiplier effect, Job well done!


May 2015
Wishing everyone a successful year of teaching AND learning!  As test time approaches, remember to breathe!  All will be well! :)

Just another reminder that our interactive notepages combine research, standards, and content and make teaching AND learning more effective, efficient, easier, and engaging! As we show students how to make sense of the information on the notepage, we know it's not the medium that will make our students better readers, thinkers, and learners.  It's all about getting better at using the strategies.  So what are some options for students to make sense of what they are reading and learning? As .pdf files are universal, providing transportation for our notepages to any device is easy. Getting students to make sense of the information? Here's a few suggestions: iAnnotate is a great app for iPads; available from the App Store. 
For Chromebooks, try PDFZen at or PDFescape at  Snapnote at has also been suggested. 
Please feel free to share what you're using to help students learn the information! 

In spite of what we may feel in the next few weeks, it really is a thrilling time to be an educator!  If we can just stay focused on what we already know; teach our students to think and they can and will apply those strategies and skills to any text, task, or test! 

Now it's time to sit back and watch your students use the strategies you've been teaching explicitly and consistently all year!  Thank you for all you do for your students!

December 2014
Happy Holidays!

We are excited to once again offer our holiday discount starting now and running through January 2015!  (Can you believe another year flew by so quickly?!) Just enter the promotional code holiday14 when you order online and receive a 15% discount on our support materials!  Our order form is already set up for your convenience. Not only do we create one-of-a-kind (Sole Source) support materials for teaching AND learning in science, social studies, math, and reading, but at a great price, too . . . with or without the discount!

We know from experience that when teachers share strategies for learning, our students can become the independent readers, thinkers, and learners we want them to be!  When teachers explicitly and consistently show students how to learn, our students amaze us (and themselves!) with their know-how. 

Yet, an article titled, "Remedial 101: Call for Reform" which appeared in the Wall Street Journal (November 18, 2014) does not highlight how amazing our students can be.  Rather it speaks to the rising number of college students taking at least one remedial course -- 2.7 million in 2011-2012 from 1.04 million in 1999-2000.  According to the Department of Education, about 40% of students entering community colleges enroll in at least one remedial course . . . and only about 1 in 4 will earn a degree or certificate.

What struck me as somewhat odd is that when we began doing workshops nine years ago, we used those same statistics.  Odder still, standards have been in effect for a lot of years (NCLB went into effect in 2001).  So how can those numbers still apply?

Studying the research and statistics along with what has to be taught AND learned, I am reminded of what Richard Allington told a group of teachers way back in the 1990s:  "Current difficulties in reading largely originate from rising demands for literacy, not from declining absolute levels of literacy."  The same can be said of content.

Showing students how to learn is the answer . . .  in every notepage and teacher guide, literacy and content are taught simultaneously as we show teachers how to show students the strategies they need to become independent readers, thinkers, and learners.  And when teaching AND learning become a partnership between teacher AND student, watch miracles happen!  Just like at this time of year!

Happy Holidays to all and to all much success!

August 2014

Ready for another year of teaching AND learning? 
We are!
After having the best summer ever, you are ready to meet and greet your students! 
Room is ready!
Supplies are ready!
Strategies are ready!
Interactive Reading & Notetaking notepages & teacher guides are ready!

Just in case you missed the memo!  We have a new address and fax number!  (Everything else remains the same!)


1573 Harbor Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185                                                            

FAX # is: 757.585.2714

Please feel free to call or write if you need assistance with an order, an idea, the interactive notebook, or just affirmation you're doing a great job!

Look for our fall/winter training schedule which will be posting soon!  We will be offering a combined math and science workshop in Williamsburg which is fantabulous!  Check our website for details or sign up for our newsletter!

Thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  Pass it on!

February 2014
How amazing are we as educators?  Every day I am positively awed by our accomplishments!

First, in our work to reconstruct our reading notepassages to align with state and national standards, we've confirmed what we already knew!  We are already aligned!  The thought process behind our materials preceded CCSS requirements.  If you look at what CCSS dictates in reading and math, the addage, "Been there, done that!" applies to our materials.  Science and social studies are right on target as well.  However, for you and your students, we plan to make them even better! 

Our interactive notepages combine research, standards, and content and make teaching AND learning more effective, efficient, easier, and engaging!  Key words! As we show students how to make sense of the information on the notepage, we know it's not the medium that will make our students better readers, thinkers, and learners.  It's all about getting better at using the strategies.  So what are some options for students to make sense of what they are reading and learning? As .pdf files are universal, providing transportation for our notepages to any device is easy. Getting students to make sense of the information? Here's a few suggestions: iAnnotate is a great app for iPads; available from the App Store. 

For Chromebooks, try PDFZen at or PDFescape at  Snapnote at has also been suggested. 
Share what you're using to help students learn the information! 

In spite of what we may feel many days, it really is a thrilling time to be an educator!  If we can just stay focused on what we already know; teach our students to think and they can and will apply those strategies and skills to any text, task, or test! 

As you know, getting our students to ask important questions is such a critical skill. On our CDs, each unit for every subject and grade level is set up to provide a demonstration that prompts teachers to be metacognitive and shows students how to learn!  We want students to get into the habit of asking questions!
Watch how Scott Bedley uses Mystery Skype to hone this important skill in his classsroom!   Make sure you read the last paragraph -- it's especially profound -- and then watch his students practice this important skill!

BTW, Verizon and Microsoft must think teachers AND students are pretty awesome, too, as they're pledging their support!  Read all about it at Verizon, Microsoftpledge investments in education technology

And if you're already doing innovative things with technology at your school, don't miss this opportunity!  Hurry!  Nominations are due by February 28!

Did you happen to read about Mary Beverly, history/government teacher at Abingdon High School in Virginia, and her use of social media?  Another progressive educator! Woo Hoo, Mary!

Speaking of social media, feel free to  "like" us on Facebook, Twitter your comments about Interactive Reading & Notetaking, or include us in your Blog!  Just like you, we are working hard to revolutionize teaching AND learning!  Let's do it together! Let's support each other!

We appreciate you taking the time today to join us! Thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  :)

January 2014
Happy New Year! 
May you begin and end this year with peace, joy, laughter, and lots of enthusiasm! 

Thank you for your continued support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  :)

March 2013
It amazes me how quickly time flies . . . when we're having fun! 

Here's a quote from us to start your thought process! 
"We think many teachers are doing a great job of teaching and many
students are doing a great job of being taught . . . but we don't think
the majority of students are learning how to learn on their own.  And we believe the difference between being taught and learning how to learn is called the achievement gap."  - IRN, Inc.

I just got off the phone with a teacher who is totally committed to the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process and materials!  She, like many others, asked why all schools/districts aren't using it? After all, based on the evidence we share and based on what teachers and schools share with us about student success (mostly measured by test scores), why wouldn't most schools/districts buy in?  Here's the answer I offered many blogs ago.

First, we don't want to mandate a process.  It will turn into a program.  Second, as superintendents and principals and teachers come and go, so do agendas.  The commitment to the process comes as a result of actually sharing the strategies with students and witnessing what students are able to do as a result.  Think of all the money that has gone into education to try to buy this kind of teacher AND student success. 

We designed the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process and support materials with teachers AND students in mind.  We all have sat through hours of planning lessons. We figured if we did the basic planning for you, which is based on strategies, research, standards, content, and skills, then you would have more time to focus on what you have to teach and how your students would learn it (metacognition).  In essence, show your students how to learn, read, and think! 

We also designed the process to be a consistent way to teach AND learn.  Bring in a structure, such as Interactive Reading & Notetaking, and anything you add to the structure that works will make it stronger; anything you add to the structure that doesn't work, won't affect it. 

Plus, consider this:   If there isn't any infrastructure in place, how can there be consistency, a common doctrine of sorts, in the way teachers teach and students learn?  Without a structure in place, such as Interactive Reading & Notetaking, our elementary students move to the next grade level and middle/high school students move to the next bell and find a whole different set of rules for teaching AND learning.  How can anyone learn how to learn when the rules for learning keep changing?  There are many reasons why schools/districts should buy in to Interactive Reading & Notetaking!

Let's keep trying!  If all teachers using Interactive Reading & Notetaking with their students would share the process with their administrators and other teachers on just their grade level for starters, can you imagine how many students AND teachers we could effect?  And  there's social media we can utilize, too!  Let's make sure that 2013 is the year that more and more students are learning how to learn! 

Of course, we want to hear your comments, suggestions, and revelations! Bring 'em on . . . and thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  

December 2012
Happy Holidays from all of us to you!  We thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking and wish everyone a Happy New Year!
Here are some quotes that epitomize the philosophy behind the process! Enjoy!
"True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own."  Nikos Kazantzakis

"Any fool can know. The point is to understand." Albert Einstein

"It is not that I'm so smart.  But I stay with the questions much longer."  Albert Einstein

"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn." Phil Collins

"We learn to do by doing."  Spencer W. Kimball

"I hate the idea that, when it comes to books and learning, HARD is often seen as the opposite of FUN.  It's strange to me that we should be so quick to give up on a book or a math problem when we are so willing to grapple, for centuries if necessary, with a single level of Angry Birds."  John Green

"Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible.  Learning is making it possible for yourself."  Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery -- it's the sincerest form of learning." George Bernard Shaw

"To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday." John Burroughs

"I'm not concerned about your comfort zones or readiness for change.  I'm concerned about the kids who just entered Kindergarten."  Ian Jukes

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Kenneth H. Blanchard

"Nobody rises to low expectations."  Calvin Lloyd

"You will not reap the fruit of individuality in your children if you clone their education." Marilyn Howshall

"...the difference between me and her is that she loves being smart, and I love learning, and those are two very different things." Brynna Gabrielson, Starkissed

"Please, not again what you studied, how long you spent at it, how many books you wrote, what people thought of you -- but: what did you learn?"  Idries Shah, Reflections

"When all the teachers are gone, who will be your teacher?"
The student replied: "Everything!"
Kobun, paused, then said: "No, you."   Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi

Here's to another successful year of teaching AND learning! Enjoy!

November 2012
Wow!  Time sure travels fast when we're having fun . . . and we know you and your students are having a blast! INTERACTIVE READING & NOTETAKING is supporting your efforts to teach well and your students' effort to learn well!  Win-win!

Thank you one and all for your comments regarding our SUPPORT MATERIALS!  As you know, science K-8, social studies K-8, and math 3-8 are all aligned with current Virginia standards and are better than ever!  If you have been a supporter of our materials in the past, make sure CD copyright dates show 2010, 2011, or 2012 only.  That way our instruction will be aligned with the way our students will be assessed this year. Our reading notepassages & teacher guides are under construction and will conform to the Common Core Standards.  Although our math notepages and teacher guides are currently aligned with Virginia's standards, they will also be aligned with the Common Core State Standards. 

Our next series of TRAINING SESSIONS will begin in January 2013 and are scheduled through the summer.  Because we really want to maximize support for both teachers AND students, we will also be offering free Administrator Training Sessions in 2013 across Virginia!

THANK YOU, everyone, for your continued support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble! :)

September 2012

Welcome back to school!  I know that these first few weeks or month (OMG!) are setting the stage for what will be  a terrific year of teaching AND learning!

Have you seen our new science notepages & teacher guides?  It's been a long year of revising, revamping, and creating, but with the exception of kindergarten which is due to be released by the end of September, all looks FANTASTIC!  Grades 1-8 are ready to go.  We are so excited that we are helping to make teaching AND learning so much easier!  Obviously we are aligned with the new science standards of Virginia, but this time around we've included a larger focus on building vocabulary and the science concepts through hyperlinks to pictures, videos, and/or interactive sites!   And just because you all asked so nicely . . . we've added suggested scientific investigations for each unit based on the essential skills in the curriculum framework -- I mean every skill is addressed either through investigation or higher level questioning!  Consequently, there's a whole lot more higher level questions!  Our mission to help students learn how to learn hasn't changed a bit!  But our support materials have -- they  just keep getting better based on your suggestions and comments and new technology! 

June 2012
From us to you . . . Have a sensational summer vacation! 

We are hearing from so many teachers regarding their year with the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process!  The result?  Engaged learners, students who are learning how to be responsible -- accountable -- for their learning.  Students who learned!  And then let us mention the SOL test scores that you are boasting about as a result of sharing the strategies with your students.  Our philosophy . . . teach them how to learn and the test results will come!  Teach them how to take a test and we'll have to start on square one every single year! 

Remember! Register for an institute near you in June, July, or August!  Get an up close and personal look at the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process!

Remember! Our science notepages & teacher guides will be ready for the upcoming school year!  Grades 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 are complete.  Grades 3 & 5 will be ready by July 30; Grade 8 will be released in August.  Look for Kindergarten in September.  And yes, they are all aligned with current standards!  Plus, this time around, we added hyperlinks to build or activate prior knowledge and have included suggested scientific investigations via links or hard copy for each unit.  We really are making teaching AND learning more effective, efficient, and easier! 

We would love to hear from more of you!  Send your comments, revelations, or questions to us at! 

We hope to have the opportunity to share and learn with you in Richmond, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, or Norfolk this summer! 

Enjoy! :)

April 2012
Happy Spring! What an exciting time of year!  What's also exciting are the classrooms where students are using the iPad as a learning tool!

Did you know that our interactive notepages and the iPad are compatible?  Students can practice learning how to learn regardless of the medium!  Here's how it works:

First, I had to purchase iAnnotate from Apple for $9.99.  Then I emailed a copy of the notepage (.pdf format) to my iPad email.  After I had the notepage in full view on the iPad screen, I clicked the box OPEN IN... and chose iAnnotate PDF.  The tools (pencil, highlighter, keyboard, etc.) showed up on the side of the page.  Students can pick their favorite colors and use their finger or pen to box, circle, underline, and write all over the notepage! 

For each paragraph, students can use the post-it notes to record the questions they ask and then transfer their learning in nonlinguistic form to their interactive notebook or binder.  Remember, give students time to retell and summarize -- they need that practice to make more sense of the information and own it!  That's called learning!

Of course, our notepages are also compatible with a computer!  Just use the tools in the drawing toolbox (varies depending on the PC and MAC).  Again, students can use the post-it notes to record the questions they ask of each paragraph, and then transfer their learning in graphic form to their interactive notebook or binder.  Remember, give students time to retell and summarize! 

Finally, save or print the notepage -- students need to be able to revisit the notepage so they can elaborate on their learning and cite information as they move to higher level questions and activities.

Technology is simply amazing!  Interactive Reading & Notetaking combined with technology is very amazing!  Questions? Comments? Personal experiences?  Please share them with us!

February 2012
Happy February!  Wow, does time fly when we're having fun!  FYI: Our Science notepages & teacher guides for grades 2,4,6,7 have been released!  First grade will be available soon!  WOO HOO!

This month, quite a few of your questions focused on vocabulary!  In response to building vocabulary for our little learners, I made an instant connection to my granddaughter, MaKayla, who was 4 when she told her parents she had an epiphany (They should go to McDonald's for dinner!). In a first grade writing share, students suggested more elaboration and no digressions!  Exposing our little ones to big words is both wonderful and necessary if we want to build vocabulary and get them excited about words.  To a young child, a word like epiphany is no different than the word idea.  So much of the language used around children are directives; we have to expose them to a variety of words!

So, how is vocabulary acquired or how do we build vocabulary no matter the age?  Andrew Biemiller cites Susan Carey's "fast-mapping" concept.  "Word meaning acquisition is unlikely to occur in the absence of a fairly specific concrete referent clearly associated with a word.  The word must be learned in the context of a physical task or in the verbal context of a task described in a verbal narrative . . . Thus both a task (real or verbally described) and the provision of a new word to access the referent in the task appear to be necessary conditions for acquiring (or "mapping") a word meaning.  (D. Dickinson & S. Neuman, Handbook of Early Literacy Research, 2006 p 44)

Robert Marzano writes in his book, Building Background Knowledge, "When we hear or read a word, we reference the meaning of the word stored in permanent memory.  A word is the label associated with a packet of knowledge stored in permanent memory.  For example, when we read or hear the word cat, we reference our stored packet of knowledge regarding cats.  Interestingly, no inherent reason explains why a given word relates to a given packet of knowledge.  The actual words we know, then, are tags, or labels for our packets of knowledge.  Thus it makes intuitive sense that the more words we have, the more packets of knowledge, and hence, the more background knowledge we have.  The understanding that a word is the representation for a packet of knowledge enhances our understanding of vocabulary and greatly expands its usefulness.  In fact, from this perspective it becomes evident that the traditional conception for vocabulary has been artificially limited in its scope." (Marzano, 2004 p 32-33)  I love it when research overlaps! Don't you?

Research in practice: Let's say on a notepage we circle the word effect.  Remember, both Biemiller and Marzano tell us to approach vocabulary by using examples or descriptions ( a physical or verbal referent) to define words.  That means we no longer define the word for students nor do we ask, "What does the word effect mean?"  Instead, we give students a chance to connect to their personal vocabularies.  We say, "Your smile has an effect on my attitude.  How much effect does your interactive notebook have on your learning? Do good grades have any effect on your life? What does the word effect mean?" (verbal referent)

Now, rather than one definition, each student must come up with their own definition (referent) for the word effect.  Responses might be, "Something that happens; a change, influence; result, outcome, impact.  Or let's say we circle the word observe.  We could ask, "Show me what it looks like when you observe the person sitting next to you." (physical referent)  Then ask, "What could we draw to define the word observe?  Responses:  "Eyes! Binoculars! A magnifying glass!"  The research suggests that when a students makes a personal connection to a word, ownership increases; hence, vocabulary increases.

Spending time building students' vocabularies seems (is!) so time-consuming that many times we eliminate the circling of words, or to speed up the process, we circle words and give students our definition of the word.  The research cited hopefully has given more clarity and purpose to this very important step in the process.

Will students always have to circle words on every piece of text they read? No, they will move from circling the words on paper to circling the words in their heads.  Building our students' vocabulary is a tough job, but it doesn't take long given time and practice.  Andrew Biemiller sums if up by writing, ". . . children with small vocabularies do acquire new words during instruction about as well as children with larger vocabularies, suggesting that much of the difference is a matter of opportunity rather than ability." (2006 p 44)

Find out more!  Attend one of our institutes!  Check out our flyer for dates and locations!  In the meantime, keep the questions and comments coming . . . and thank you for your support!

January 2012

Happy New Year to you! 

We wish you the most terrific year ever for teaching AND learning!

What's new in 2012 . . .
Science 2011 for grades 4,6,7 have been released!  Grade 2 will be ready to go before January 30.  Grade 1 before February 28.  Our new notepages & teacher guides are based on Virginia's new curriculum framework.  Therefore, grades 3,5,8 will not be released until after this year's SOL test. We have been working really hard on making teaching AND learning easier . . .  Links have been included to build students' background knowledge and to elicit curiosity and interest.  More opportunities for higher level questioning have been added.  And based on teacher input, we have included suggestions for scientific investigations that align with what our students have to know!

We really are hoping for a trade-off!  We figure if teachers have to spend less time preparing the lesson, more time can be spent prepping for it!  That equates to students learning how to learn!  WOO HOO!   We would love to hear your feedback!  Please send comments and any suggestions you may have to!

Thank you for your emails and phone calls inquiring as to when we plan to host another series of training sessions.  With your busy schedule and ours in mind, we plan to resume institute training in June.  Rationale: Teachers will still have time to try the process out on their students this year (after SOL testing = less stress!), and during the summer, they can collaborate and plan -- get ready to turn their next group of students into independent learners and readers and thinkers! 

We'll be offering training in Blacksburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond.  Our original workshop will be offered along with Interactive Reading & Notetaking in math, reading, and the primary classroom (PK to 1st grade).  Our flyer will be posting soon on the website and newsletter!  With the economy the way it is, budget perks will be offered again along with a discount for early registration!  

For those of you who have attended training this year, look for an email inviting you to a follow-up online Q&A session in February.  For your convenience, there will be a choice of days and times.  This is a chance to ask questions, share insights and revelations, discuss what's working and what's challenging. We offer the follow-up session as another way to support you as you share the strategies with your students.  Also know that we can support you via email and phone, too! 

Thanks to your comments and suggestions, we are working on a lot of  ideas to make teaching AND learning even more effective, efficient, and easier!  Thank you, thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  Pass it on!!!  :)

December 2011

Happy Holidays!

We are busy elves here at Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  In reflection, it has been a wonderful year of sharing with teachers and students.  We look forward to taking even bigger steps forward next year.

Speaking of big steps, a teacher at a recent training session asked why aren't all schools using the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process.  After all, based on the evidence we share and based on what teachers and schools share with us about student success (mostly measured by SOL scores), this was a no brainer, in his opinion.   Good question . . . and conclusion!  Here's the answer I offered. 

First, we don't want to mandate a process.  It will turn into a program.  Second, as superintendents and principals and teachers come and go, so do agendas.  The commitment to the process comes as a result of actually sharing the strategies with students and witnessing what students are able to do as a result.  Think of all the money that has gone into education to try to buy this kind of teacher AND student success.  Interactive Reading & Notetaking is effective . . . and budget-friendly!

So it's time to get busier! If all teachers using Interactive Reading & Notetaking with their students would share the process with other teachers on just their grade level for starters, can you imagine how many students AND teachers we will effect?  That's how we will revolutionize teaching AND learning! 

Let's make 2012 the year that more and more students are learning how to learn! 

Please continue to share comments, suggestions, and revelations with us! Thank you all for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!   Happy Holidays!


November 2011

Happy November!  We're in the process of harvesting some great ideas! 

First, our science notepages and teacher guides for grades 4,6,7 are still running on schedule.  We plan to release them by the end of November.  Grade 2 will be ready to go in December.  Grades 3,5,8 will be out by May 2012. They'll be right in time for next year!  The links we've added to activate or build prior knowledge are amazing as well as the links or suggestions for scientific investigations! We really are making teaching AND learning more efficient, effective, and easier.

We are also in the planning stage of offering Interactive Reading & Notetaking training via an online video that can be purchased at our website due to the number of requests and inquiries from teachers and principals outside of Virginia!  We would be very interested to know your thoughts regarding training from a video production versus a face-to-face session.  Please email us at with your comments.

In the meantime, two powerful  face-to-face Interactive Reading & Notetaking training sessions will take place at the Sheraton Park South in Richmond, VA on November 16 & 17, 2011.  We have offered a budget price of $165.00 per participant this time around; and, if at least one teacher attends, so can your administrator . . . for free!  Also, we offer a 10% discount on any of our support materials purchased after training.

Wednesday, November 16--Original Interactive Reading & Notetaking training!  In this session, Amanda Donnelly will show you how to combine the learning strategies, reading strategies, instructional strategies, brain research, standards, content, and a lot of metacognition into a step-by-step process that shows students how to learn -- the missing piece of the education puzzle.  Join her as she demonstrates the WHYs and HOWs of the strategies on each page of the interactive "textbook" you create together in this workshop! 

Thursday, November 17--Interactive Reading & Notetaking in MATH!  In this session, Tara "Ginny" Culpepper will show you how to use the Interactive Reading & Notetaking process specifically in a math classroom.  Vocabulary, reading in math, and practice as well as ideas for integrating technology in the math classroom will be her focus. Ginny brings 14 years of experience in all core subject areas to this training along with a variety of ideas, experiences, and educational tools just for the math classroom!  Ginny knows how to get students to want to learn . . . and their SOL scores year after year reflect that effort and enthusiasm! 

BTW, you can see Ginny at where she was recently featured on the Fall 2011 episode of WHRO's Netfiles television/web program for her use of technology in a reading classroom. 

WOO HOO! Two powerful days of sharing and learning!  Join us!

Please continue to send your comments, insights, questions, and revelations!  We really enjoy hearing from you!  Again, thank you for your support as we revolutionize teaching AND learning!                                                                                                                         

September 2011

A huge WELCOME BACK! to teachers AND students!  It's going to be a terrific year of teaching AND learning!

Thank you so much for your comments and insights about Interactive Reading & Notetaking.  We are thrilled to hear that test scores have improved so drastically for so many of your students!  We always say in our workshops that if we show our students how to learn, the test scores will come.  We love it when a plan works!

Quite a few of you sent in questions to us so here are some answers!

When will our science notepages & teacher guides be aligned with Virginia's new standards? 
Our SCIENCE SUPPORT MATERIALS are a work in progress! We are currently aligning our notepages & teacher guides with the new standards of Virginia and are we ever excited about what we're producing!  At your request, we are linking scientific investigations to each unit as a way to practice, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the essential knowledge!  We think you will be awed by our efforts!  Release dates will be staggered.  We hope to release most non-test years (grades 2,4,6,7) in November 2011 and test years (grades 3,5,8) in April/May 2012. As we know, testing on the new standards goes into effect during the 2012-2013 school year.

Why is teaching the STRATEGIES so important? After all, isn't it the content that is important?
We intended our notepages & teacher guides to be a support for teachers as they share the strategies and the content with their students.  Our materials are unique as the primary focus is on the explicit and consistent teaching of strategies.  The notepage, which is the content or the target information (Marzano, 2001), becomes the vehicle for showing our students how to become strategic learners, readers, and thinkers.  We aren't saying content isn't important.  It is!  But how far does the content go if students aren't given or don't have the strategies to learn what they have to know?  Strategies have to play into every aspect of each lesson so students learn how to learn the content on their own. 

Do I have to use a notebook? The interactive notebook or textbook we create with our students in every content area is key in making the strategies a mindset.  Each page in the notebook provides an explicit and consistent model of the strategies that shows our students how to learn.  The pages in the notebook are not just the keeper of the knowledge; each page supports the strategies so they become a habit for both teachers and students.  Will our students always need a notebook? Students should always have the opportunity to make sense of what they are learning.  Once students have the strategies and can apply them to whatever they are learning, they still need time to improve, refine, and extend their use of the strategies.  The strategies require our students to be metacognitive; they know when they have it and they know when they don't . . . and when they don't, they will always have strategies to figure it out themselves.  The interactive notebook sets both teachers and students up for success.

When do we plan to host more training institutes?  This fall we will be hosting Interactive Reading & Notetaking in MATH  in Blacksburg, VA on October 14, 2011 and in Richmond, VA on November 17, 2011.  The ORIGINAL Interactive Reading & Notetaking training will be in Richmond, VA on November 16, 2011.  Download a registration flyer today and take advantage of the great budget perks

Thank you for your support of Interactive Reading & Notetaking!  Keep your questions, suggestions, comments, and experiences coming!  Please share your experiences with everyone . . .  at lunch, in faculty meetings, parent conferences, and even via Twitter and Facebook! Let's make sure our fellow teachers and students everywhere are aware of the power behind the process!  Together, we will revolutionize teaching AND learning!  The time is definitely now!

June 2011

We are so excited about the changes to our website! From the Home Page to the Contact Page, we have tried to design a site that will provide information about Interactive Reading & Notetaking to fellow educators along with lots of opportunities for dialogue and discussion about the process!

We invite all educators AND their students who have been using Interactive Reading & Notetaking to share experiences, comments, insights, and revelations with us and with others! Just send your posting to us at, give us permission to post, and our conversations will begin! Not only can we share written responses but we can get more visual with pictures and videos. For instance, check out Rebecca's pictures below of PreKindergarten students retelling the objective in science! So it's time to get out your cameras and cell phones and show us what's going on with Interactive Reading & Notetaking in your classroom! But first, here's just one example of an email we received that proves once again how student engagement goes hand in hand with Interactive Reading & Notetaking!

Good Morning, As we are snowed in here in Richmond, I thought I would take a few minutes to update you about my progress with Interactive Notetaking. I participated in the IRN workshop in the fall, and have been using the strategies ever since. We are having some terrific learning happening in our classes. I have found several unexpected side effects of the strategy. First, the students really enjoy working with setting the objective. It really helps us stay on track as a class.  It also allows us as a class of gifted learners to identify where we are going beyond the basics of the Standards of Learning. All in fun, we call them the Standards of Boring, and our job is to make them sound more exciting. Second, it is also very easy to refer back to our objective at any time during our units of study to do some internal review. Lastly, the strategy has made the students better at reading the directions on independent activities. We have used the circle/highlight and finding a synonym strategies. The students have now gotten to the point of doing this independently, and it has drastically reduced the number of times they come to ask me to clarify directions.
Please let me know when the new math materials are ready as I would like to have them to support my current math materials without having to reinvent the wheel. The printed note pages you provide are so handy because it means I don't need to glean materials from several books-they are already ready for me to copy, distribute, and apply the strategies to.
My next step is to adjust activities in the units I teach to more effective methods of learning, in particular the increased use of graphic organizers. The process is a long one as we work through our units of study, but I look forward to it with refreshed perspective. Thanks again for your strategies and support.
Happy Holidays, and enjoy the snow if you can!
Fourth Grade Teacher
Henrico County, VA

Join Us! For those of you who have not yet experienced the power behind Interactive Reading & Notetaking, stay tuned for more postings! Plus go to the Training Tab above! Here are some comments from teachers regarding our sessions:

I wanted to thank you for the wonderful workshop last week. Everyone has told me they enjoyed it tremendously and that it was one of the best workshops they have attended. Carroll County, VA

My staff and I thoroughly enjoyed the training in Charlottesville a few weeks ago. They came back very excited and eager to use the process within their content area. Thanks again for such wonderful information. Essex County, VA

This class is one of the most transforming classes that I have ever taken. It is not often that educators can utilize every aspect of a class to inform and better their practice. I feel so much more informed as a teacher and know that my students are reaping the beneifts of what I have learned. Gloucester County, VA

I was looking at your upcoming workshops and was wondering if you would be offering any of the Teacher Leader Model workshops again. I currently use Interactive Notebooks in my classroom and believe they are incredibly effective. I would like to be able to lead others in my school in their use. Loudoun County, VA

Early Learners & Interactive Reading & Notetaking As former middle school teachers, we saw way too many middle schoolers lacking the strategies needed for independent learning, reading, and thinking. Three years ago, we decided to move into PK, K, and 1st grade classrooms to see how the strategies would impact our early learners. Rebecca became our teacher as researcher, and for the last 8 months has been working with PK students, sharing the strategies behind Interactive Reading & Notetaking! With just a few minor tweaks, Rebecca modeled the same strategies that we share with elementary, middle, high school, and college students and shared them with her early learners, mere 4 year olds, and WOW! What success! If we begin teaching students how to learn at the PK level, poor learning habits and attitude won't get in the way of student potential. In the picture below, student engagement and ownership begins at the PK level!

PK Student Retelling the Objective!


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