Digital Notebook Template

Graphic that says "Digital Notebook Template" at the top with 4 images below. One is a notebook cover with tabs, the next is a notebook page with colored sections, the next is a notebook divider, and the last is a notebook page similar to the second.

Blue notebook cover with colored tabs that read period 1, period 3, period 4, up to period 10.

When a colleague asked the best way to create a digital notebook, my answer was Google Slides of course! But then my wheels started turning, especially because I am in the middle of Tony Vincent’s Classy Graphics course and I am learning so many amazing ways to design graphics for use in educational settings. It’s so much fun to think of all the ways this digital organizer could be used and modified by students and teachers, especially since Google Slides is a common format that lots of students already know how to manipulate.

Get your copy of the template here!

Once you have a copy of the digital notebook template, save it as your original and make more copies as needed. You can label the cover and tabs any way you wish and each tab is hyperlinked to the corresponding color divider! If used as a student notebook, the tabs can be labeled for each course or class period. If used for one subject, students can organize their notes by unit of study. If used as a teacher planner, label with class periods or subjects! This can also be customized for use by instructional coaches to keep notes in PLCs or coaching cycles!

Use the dividers to organize your sections visually. Add a text box to create a “table of contents” for the pages that follow and link your course text or other yearlong resources for efficient access. All dividers have a 🔙 To Cover button so you can easily navigate back to the “main menu”.

Once you’ve personalized the labels and dividers for your needs duplicate the notebook pages to use as needed! Students may want to use this as a digital note-taking tool or as a repository for course resources. Teachers can use this as a lesson and resource planner! The beauty of using Google Slides is that all text, images, and videos inserted to the pages can be hyperlinked to additional resources, other slide decks, or the course text so it puts everything in one place!

I love to play with Google Slides and this template pushed my design skills but I love a challenge and learning new things as I go! Please feel free to make a copy of this template and modify it in any way that will make it useful for you! I believe in a community of sharing and I would love to see what ideas you come up with!

Love this template? Buy me a coffee to keep this site running!
@Laura-Cahill-5

101 thoughts on “Digital Notebook Template

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    1. I make the tabs by going to Insert>Shape, then draw, color, and move the shape where I want it. To make it link to another slide, click CTRL+K and select ‘Slides in this Presentation’ and choose which number slide.

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    1. To make the notebook cover, I:
      1) Made the design on a slide with a transparent background
      2) Clicked File>Download as>PNG
      3) Made a new slide and selected Background>Use Image and selected the image of the cover.

      I do this so that students won’t move around all the elements of the notebook cover but here is my original. Feel free to File>Make a Copy so you can change it. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1EAGVi35Bz5THjFi0jJ5dJIK02moaRsnY6Irv4h8onCk/edit?usp=sharing

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      1. Thank you so much! I love this digital notebook template!! I appreciate you!!

        I have one more questions. How do you lock so students cannot move? I am putting cloze notes in the notebook but I do not want them to move it around but still be able to type.

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      2. Thank you for your feedback! To make things unmovable by students, set the slide up the way you want, then go to File>Download As>PNG. Create a new slide and go to Background>Use Image and select the PNG you just downloaded. now that whole image will not be editable to anyone else. But you can still put text boxes and other things on top of it if you want students to write in it.

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  1. Laura, once again you have demonstrated why you are a TECH ROCKSTAR! What a phenomenal creation. Such a fabulous tool, especially for SpecEd students. Thank you for sharing, my dear friend!

    John O

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  2. Thank you Laura – I have children using this for their remote learning and it keeps things so organized. I am rolling it out classroom-wide today during our Google Meet. I teach third grade and I think it will be easy for the kids to keep things in an organized digital “book.” Thank you so much for sharing this!!

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  3. I made a copy of the template. Shouldn’t I be able to click on the back to cover or back to divider buttons and it will bring me back to those pages? I click on them and it opens as a text box. What am I missing?

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    1. Hi Jen, when you are in the editor’s view of the slide deck, if you click on the edge of the text box the link to take you “back” will appear and then you can click on it. If you are in presentation mode you can just click on the box and it will go right back.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this template, Laura. I hope you can help me troubleshoot, when I click on the link to make a copy, the slides open in presentation format and I’m unable to download or make a copy of them.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this digital notebook Laura! I teach special ed in high school. I can’t tell you how many notebooks I set up for my students each semester only to have them lose them within a few weeks! I can’t wait to implement this in the fall! Praying my students won’t ‘lose’ it!

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  6. Do you think this would work with 20 tabs in one notebook? I’m trying to create a notebook for conversations I have with teachers. By each teacher’s name or a number associated with table of contents which has their name…

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing this! This is absolutely amazing. I am in the process of turning my interactive math notebook digital and this is giving me the place to start. I am also learning google – would you be able to help me with adding tabs? I know how to duplicate slides but not so that they link back and then line up like they do on the cover. I am a newbie :O lol Thank you again!

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  8. I love the template and I’m sure my students will too! I added a detailed Table of Contents page on page 2 (after the cover but before the yellow section) and then created a star tab at the top of each section page that will take you back to the TOC. I did it, so as my students/I add additional slides, we can have a detailed list of what’s in each section. I also made the last section a glossary, and I am planning on having students use that for vocabulary. If needed, I may make a similar shortcut to the glossary section, but put it at the bottom of the section divider – or maybe on every page for my ELL students.

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  9. Hi, I think this is fabulous. I will have to play with it. With Having to do Distance Learning now, I would like to use this for my SDC Geometry Students in the Fall. Usually we use a graph paper Notebook that stays in the classroom where all work goes. My wondering…
    Can I (once I set it up,) have it as a resource/or assignment in Google Classroom for students to use that I can update (but they only have access by making a copy for themselves)… Then would it still be update-able by me each class period (or even by them for their own copy)?
    Oh also… Since we use Google, I would have to turn it into google sheets to share with students. Will all the links transfer over? Thanks

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    1. I hope I understand your questions. If you give students access as “View Only” any changes you make to your version will be reflected on their view but if one or more students make a copy for themselves, any changes you make to your original will not be reflected in their copies. If you kept it as a view only copy at the top of your Classwork tab in your Classroom, it would be a great ongoing resource. I like that idea! I am not sure what you mean by turn it into Google Sheets? Do you need to embed spreadsheets somehow?

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      1. Thanks. That is very helpful.
        No, I meant Google slides. sorry. In order to post to classroom, it has to be in Google’s slides. I assume I just save it as a google slide document (make my ongoing edits in that) and all the links will still work.

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  10. Thank you for making this available! I’m going to try this with my kids in the upcoming school year. This is new for me so I’l be facing an uphill journey. I appreciate you having this tool available for me so my journey is a little easier (hopefully). You’ve got some great ideas.

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  11. Just found this, and it is EXACTLY what I needed! OMG, thank you for this… it has saved me a ton of time. It’s perfect for high school (which was the problem I have most of the time, high school stuff is not supposed to be cutesy!!!). Thank you for making this available for anyone to use. I totally appreciate it.

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  12. love what you shared. Could you make a video explaining this also. My science team is going to try to use your interactive notebook.

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  13. If I want to let kids make a copy, how could they add pages if needed? I want the notebook to be interactive and not just stay in view only.

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    1. If you want each student to have their own copy to modify and personalize, you can share the link with them and they can go to File>Make a Copy and then they’ll have one of their own. If they want to add a specific page, they can click on the slide of the type of page they want to add and click Control+C, Control +V to copy and paste additional copies of that page.

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  14. I was just beginning to make one from scratch, but I love how this is organized – Thank you so much for sharing this resource!

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  15. Hi! This is an amazing resource. Thank you so much for sharing it! I have a question for you. I am making a template about a book that I want my students to fill in as we go. How do I keep my blank version of the template and share it with them so that they can each fill it in? I am worried that if I share it with them and they start working that they will actually fill out my version if that makes sense. Thanks for your help!

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    1. Yes, that makes perfect sense. If you use Google Classroom you can attach it to the assignment and select the option to make a copy for every student. If you do not use Google Classroom you can share it with your students and force a copy. To do this, you would click on the share button and copy the link for your original version and then paste the link into a doc or your web browser just so you can replace the word edit with the word copy. Then copy that link and send it to your students. when you replace the word edit with the word copy it will force a copy for whoever receives that link.

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  16. I teach in a Microsoft district, and I’m finding that anything I do in Google Slides is way too big when I save it as a PPT. Do you have any suggestions or templates for PowerPoint? Random, but I figured I’d ask. Thank you!

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  17. Oh my soul!! I’ve recently discovered Digital notebooks and am loving his idea. Thank you SOOOOOO much for sharing your template – it’s awesome.

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  18. I am trying to create digital notebooks for my students. However, our school uses Canvas and not Google Classroom so I am in a quandary on how to get notebook to students. Also I want to be able to add slides to the notebook, after kids have it, so I do not know if I can edit once kids get notebook to add pages to it. Can you help?

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    1. Let me start by saying I am not a canvas user or very familiar with it at all. But I did find this blog post that might be helpful to you. https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructional-Designer/Using-Google-Docs-for-dynamic-Canvas-content/ba-p/269064 however, by this method it doesn’t seem like you can edit it after the students have it. I would recommend doing some googling and seeing what you can find because I know a lot of teachers use canvas.

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  19. Hi! I made my digital notebook for a group novel that we are reading and I created the first two chapters of the notebook and sent the copy version to my students…the students have worked on those…but now I am ready to have them do the next two chapters and I am wondering, do I re-send the copy of my original notebook. I am adding as I go, depending on the group discussion so I don’t have a completed notebook for the whole novel. Do you have a suggestion for how to give them the next two chapters? Let me know if this is confusing! Thanks for your help!

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  20. This is awesome but how did you make the dividers different colors? I want to add some more dividers to it. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource. It has worked out so well during this time of unknowing.

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  21. The divider pages are not backgrounds on the elements slideshow that I just shared with you. They are shapes that I drew in. The one I share out through my blog, has those shapes changed to the backgrounds.

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  22. Thank you for sharing the template. I am a 5th grade teacher and will be using it to create a digital Reader’s Notebook this fall. There are so many things I need to adapt to a digital format due to covid-19 so I’m glad I was able to find something that will work for me.

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  23. Laura, this is a fantastic structure for Interactive Student Notebooks! I have been trying to figure out how to create a digital notebook for my students in the hybrid model this fall. I know you are a google educator, but my district is not a google district. Do you know if this model can be downloaded as a powerpoint as well?
    Thanks for your awesome work!

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  24. I just came up with the most brilliant idea….what it my students can create and save their notes in a digital notebook, then I wouldnt feel guilty asking parents to buy 5-subject notebooks or buy 5 small notebooks if they cant afford to!!!! LOL, then I Googled and you already have one made. You are a superstar!! This is EXCELLENT. I just need to figure out now how to get the blank pages…I downloaded the original doc from one of the comments….I am still looking for the correct download link. I know there has to be one (other than the one in the comment).

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  25. This is wonderful! Is there a way to use this if my district does not use the Google Classroom platform? We currently use Office 365, but I am definitely interested in finding a way for each student to have a copy of their own digital notebook. I have a google account, but my students do not. Therefore, they cannot make a copy, unfortunately.

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  26. Personalising their binders is such a big thing for many students. Changing backgrounds of the covers permits that where using a slide master doesn’t. I even tried it with an animated gif & it works. Because the tabs nicely overly any images students use for backgrounds. You could ask a class to make thematic covers as a way to get them used to working with slides.This would also be an opportunity to teach them about citing sources, using speaker notes, etc. I’m going to add a tab in the back with pages of ‘bubbles’ they can copy & use on their notes pages — homework checklist, drawing bubble, interactive whiteboard bubble, and so forth. Thanks for adding that hint to your video. This is going with me when I do my hyperdoc presentation at CUEBC. Thanks!

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  27. SOOORRRYYY!!! Please disregard last comment. When I change a slide background, for some reason the presentation won’t load. I’m not sure why not.

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  28. Gosh I feel so dummmmmm — it did work after all. I just took extra time to load because of the image & the was no indicator on the screen that it was working. Thanks for your patience..

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  29. How can I have students add their work to the tabs? Can they add them as google docs or pdfs or can they only add a picture of the assignment?
    Thanks so much for this resource!

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    1. @Melanie I’m not sure what you mean by ‘work’. Are you referring to the solution to a math problem? If yes, this can be handled using Google Keep.

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      1. @Melanie I’ve spent a lot of time looking because it would be such a nice feature, but there seems to be no easy way. Even going from a Google Doc to a jpg takes 2 steps. The most straightforward thing I can think of is for your students to take screenshots of their work & crop if need be. Those can be inserted on their slides. For a more consistent appearance, you could put a rectangle or an empty 1×1 table on your notebook page template and have students resize their image to fit. You could also add pre-formatted text boxes for peer comments.

        My final suggestion would be to give students a way to compose work directly on their own copies of your notebook page template. If you’re using a hyperdoc with space for students’ responses, a screenshot of that could be used as a new background image. (Set the hyperdoc’s dimensions to fit an 8.5×11 page which will match Mandi’s slide size.) Then put text boxes where students will enter their replies. Mandi’s video & working file (linked in other replies above) will be helpful.

        There area lot of Ggl app users who have voiced online their hopes that Ggl will make Docs, Slides, etc. more easily interconnected, but Ggl doesn’t seem to be listening.

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      2. Glad I’m not the only one frustrated by the lack of that feature! I like your idea of doing the work directly in the notebook but then I would lose the ease of grading in google classroom. Any ideas for the grading side?

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      3. @Melanie Sorry, I’m not familiar with G Classroom, so I think I’d probably work through a Google Form because the spreadsheet provides a great way to track who’s done what. The students can enter the links to their specific slides. I’ve also heard that Mote is a great add-on (not free but apparently worth the $$) for doing quick audio comments — preferable to Vocaroo which is recommended in one of the links below,

        Perhaps 1 of these 3 sources will have what you need.
        1) https://alicekeeler.com/2018/02/03/google-slides-link-help-feedback/
        2) https://tommullaney.com/2020/01/21/4-modalities-of-google-classroom-feedback/
        3) https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/9093530?hl=en — scroll to the bottom for the topic list of G Classroom how-tos

        The other route is to go to Richard Byrne’s website & fo a search. Chances are he’s covered that. If not, he replies to most questions.

        Good luck.
        & Thanks to Laura for providing space for this dialogue. The links you shared in earlier replies (video, working file) were invaluable to me. 😇

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