Interactive Notebooks

BILL--The Biology Interactive Learning Log


You will also be spending a lot of time with something called BILL.  In our AP Biology course, students keep an interactive student notebook (ISN), where you will document your learning and interact with course content.  Our ISN is called a Biology Interactive Learning Log, and we will use it daily.  

On any given day, we could be doing one of the following things in our notebook:

  • Solving practice problems 
  • Interpreting graphs or diagrams
  • Creating graphic organizers or concept maps about biology content
  • Writing practice free response questions

The activities we will do in our BILL are meant to allow you to interact with the biology content of our class in various ways.  The more ways you interact with biological concepts, the more likely you will be able to apply them to new situations, whether it is a test or a lab investigation.  

To create your BILL, you will need a quad-ruled composition notebook, not a spiral-bound notebook.  I have found the composition notebooks to be much more durable and less likely to have pages lost than the spiral-bound notebooks.  This is important because by the end of the year, you will have a homemade study guide.  

You will need to decorate the cover of your BILL with a collage of some sort that represents you.  I recommend that you cover the front of your notebook with clear packing tape once you have completed the cover to add durability, but also to protect the collage you make.

We will go over how to set up the inside of the BILL in class within the first few days of class so be sure you have a composition notebook with you in class so that you can get it set up.  

It is important that you keep up with your BILL on a daily basis, since this learning log is the physical representation of your processing of course concepts.  We will use this notebook in class on a daily basis to catalog all the learning that you do both inside and outside the classroom, so it is important that you have it with them each day. 

Tips to make your interactive learning log work for you

Use these tips to help you make the most of this notebook as a study and learning tool.
  • Use color:  Color-coding key phrases and terms is one way to make sure that they stick in your mind. For example, if there are unfamiliar terms/phrases you come across in your reading or viewing of videos, you might write them down in red ink.  If there are questions you have about something you’ve seen/read, highlight them in yellow so that when you come to class the next day, you can remember to ask about them
  • Don’t tear any pages out:  You want to keep the entire notebook intact.  Ideally, this notebook will be your study guide for in-class tests as well as the AP exam in May.  We will do some sort of interactive activity in your notebook nearly every day.
  • Create pockets for items such as flash cards or handouts that do not fit easily into the notebook: Sometimes I will have you make flashcards or give you a handout that does not readily fit into the notebook.  Use a half-sheet of paper or a 5x8 index card and some tape to create a pocket for these things to fit into.
  • Write down questions you have about things you do not understand:  Do this, and highlight them in a certain color so that you can ask about them in class the next 
  • Tab off sections by unit of study:  This will help you keep your materials organized in a way that makes sense.  I have an example of a BILL like this for you to look at.
  • Keep it neat and organized!:  If your BILL isn’t neat and organized, you will find it difficult to use this notebook as a study tool.
We will use our BILL on a daily basis so be sure to bring it to class each period.

Why You Should Color Your BILL, and How to Do It 
View or download this file in the folder at the bottom of this page.

Taking Cornell Notes & Concept Maps in Your BILL
View or download this file in the folder at the bottom of this page.

Bill Grading Rubric 
View or download this file in the folder at the bottom of this page.

Photo of taking Cornell notes in your BILL (from Lee Ferguson)

Photo of Front Cover, A Unit Cover Page, and of Tabs

Mark Eberhard,
Sep 6, 2013, 12:11 PM
Mark Eberhard,
Sep 1, 2013, 10:22 AM