Using Interactive Notebooks in Chemistry - Stoichiometry

Visualizing Stoichiometry INB page

If you have seen some of my previous webinars*, you probably have heard me mention that I use interactive notebooks in my chemistry I classes. Today, I’m going to share the first of many units: stoichiometry. Keep an eye out because gas laws and thermochemistry will be coming very soon! Over the course of 2022, I plan to share my entire year of notebook materials. Please realize that you don’t have to notebook to find some of the activities and pages useful! You could always give “interactive handouts” if you aren’t ready or don’t want to commit to full-blown notebooking for the entire year, or you can pull isolated activities, diagrams, foldables, or handouts to use in your classes.

A bit of the backstory explaining why I chose interactive notebooks for my chemistry I classes… A few years ago, our district made the decision to go textbookless in science. This initially didn’t bother me, as I didn’t use the book very often as it was. However, I was very surprised at how it changed the students’ perception of the flow of the content. They struggled to see how lessons from day to day connected, even when the connections seemed obvious to me. For example, you need to understand how ions form in order to understand how they come together to make compounds, but I still heard “How does this relate to what we did yesterday?” I also heard from students (and surprisingly, also their parents) that they were lost when it came time to prepare for summative assessments, or what to do if they didn’t remember a necessary prior concept.

For other units, see our ChemEd X INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK COLLECTION.

Over the Christmas break of that textbookless first year, I started doing some research into ways to help students organize the content more effectively. I wanted something more than a binder (we were already using binders and it wasn’t working). I needed a way to control the flow and organization for them to provide structure, but also to allow space for them to be creative and make their own connections. Enter interactive notebooks (INBs).

At the time (around 2015 or so), interactive notebooks were being used primarily in the elementary/middle grades. When I did find a high school example, it was usually for an English class. I found a few in math, but none in high school science. But I quickly realized that there are common themes that made this a good choice for me: heavy use of graphic organizers, foldables (which I already used and loved), lots of colors and color coding, and activities that required high engagement and input from students.

The premise behind interactive notebooks is uniform, regardless of the subject area. The term “interactive” means that the notebooks involve more than just notes: students truly interact with the content. The interpretation of what this looks like is varied: components could lift, open or fold; activities may be included that require students to interact with the material in a SIM, by making observations of a demo, recording lab results; notes are guided and require engagement via sketching, coloring, labeling, cutting and pasting, etc. The notebook should be bound (almost all INBs I see are put together in composition notebooks), and the two page spread is broken into two parts:

For every page of teacher directed “input” there should be a corresponding student created “output”. Ideally the left side should be very open ended and allow for lots of student interpretation.

My early adoption of interactive notebooks for chemistry meant that I had to create many of my materials from scratch. I learned a lot in the process, in what to do but also what not to do. One thing I realized after my first year was to figure out a way to make the construction of the notebook move faster. I began printing much more of the content to save time. Many of the pages I use have two versions: a more teacher-prepared version to make the notebooking process faster, and a version that is more student-created. There are pros and cons to both, so the choice is really what works best for you and your students.

On a personal level, introducing INBs into my classes revived my teaching. I enjoy being creative, and thinking through the best physical way to present content is fun for me. I also really thought about the flow and progression of my course, and even made some curriculum adjustments. (Why didn’t I ever think to teach Dalton’s Law with pressure before? It doesn’t need to wait to be tacked on until the end of gases!) While I, and many of my students, love INBs, many of my students are neutral towards them. A small number of students hate them. In that case I usually ask them to give it an open-minded try for 6 weeks. After that time, they are still required to use the composition notebook for their work, and they must complete all activities, but they can switch to traditional notes in many cases instead of using the interactive style.

If you have questions, please reach out to me! I’d love to support you in your notebooking journey.



BCA tables
limiting reactant
mole ratio
percent yield

Composition notebooks, printed copies of each page, scissors, tape or glue

**A note on my manipulatives: If you see a dashed line, that is where the item should be cut. If you see dotted lines, that means fold.


For backstory about how Nora uses interactive notebooks, view a recording of her ChemEd X Talk: Integrating Interactive Notebooks into Chemistry Courses with Nora Walsh and read her previous post, Interactive Notebook Unit on Stoichiometry. Nora wrote the following in response to questions she received after her ChemEd X Talk: A Classroom View of Using Interactive Notebook Pages.


Stoichiometry Unit

-Stoichiometry is a 2-4 page spread unit, depending on whether or not you use BCA Tables.

Dimensional Analysis Notebook Pages:

Spread 1 – Mole Ratios

Right Side – Mole Ratios – the heart of stoichiometry

  • This page includes use of the PhET SIM Reactants, Products and Leftovers to introduce the vocabulary and concepts of stoichiometry and mole ratios
  • The concept of mole ratios is introduced and students are asked to justify one of the results from the PhET by applying the correct mole ratio, and then are extended by using mole amounts that are not supported by the SIM

Left Side: S’more Stoichiometry - formatted to be an accordian booklet


Spread 2 – Simple Stoichiometry

Right Side: How to Approach Stoichiometry

  • The top is a flapbook with three sections:
    • Given Quantitiy of A à
    • Change to Moles of B à
    • Wanted Quantity of B
  • Students are given an option of 3 scaffolds for visualizing the stoichiometric process (The Box Method, the Ladder Method and the Island Method). Students pick 1 or more to anchor within the matchbook foldable (a frame can be used inside to allow access to multiple scaffolds). The scaffolds are spatially aligned to the flaps so that students can reveal one step of the process at a time.
  • Stoichiometry Notecards are created and tucked into a pocket.
  •  This PowerPoint slideshow may help with explaining how to use the flapbook.

Left Side: Stoichiometry mind map


Spread 3 – Limiting Reagents

Right Side: Limiting Reagents

  • A phrase supporting students understanding of WHEN a problem is a limiting reagent problem is recorded, complete with a flap under which Limiting Reagent is defined
  • Solving Limiting Reagent Tab Book: 3 page tab book with guidance (including an example problem) for the three steps that I teach my students about limiting reagents:
    • Step 1: Convert to moles
    • Step 2: Do more ratios
    • Step 3: Finish and compare


Left Side: Stoichiometry with Beads

This activity is highlighted here: Stoichiometry with Beads. I prefer the hands on version but there is also a virtual version. 


Spread 4 – Percent Yield

Right Side: Percent Yield

  • Students write notes on percent yield, what is shows and why it’s important

  • Foldable showing the formula are used to define terms underneath and provide tips for differentiating between actual and theoretical amounts in solving problems

  • Flaps comparing/recognizing limiting reagent word problems vs. percent yield word problems

Left Side: This is a good place for a percent yield lab if you are using one


BCA Table Notebook Pages:

Spread 1 – Mole Ratios

Right Side: Mole Ratios – the heart of stoichiometry

  • This page includes use of the PhET SIM Reactants, Products and Leftovers to introduce the vocabulary and concepts of stoichiometry and mole ratios
  • BCA Tables are introduced by applying them to one of the PhET models

Left Side: S’more Stoichiometry – formatted to be an accordian booklet


Spread 2 – Percent Yield

– same as for Dimensional Analysis

*Note: I do LOTS of practice on BCA tables online with immediate feedback that I have designed on Rose PRISM using the Moodle platform. It would probably be supportive for your students to add another 2 page spread using Melissa Hemling’s Visual BCA Tables as either the output or input. You could do this as a two page spread using a gradual release method, or have a page with gram to gram stoichiometry practice problems that students annotate/fill in, and then use Melissa’s activity as a corresponding output page.


Provide copies of the following for each student. Note that I have grouped the components by page. Please preview them before printing as some pages have multiple copies to minimize paper waste.

PDF icon Interactive Notebook Rubric – Stoichiometry

Spread 1: PDF icon Mole Ratios - Dimensional Analysis, PDF icon Smore Stoichiometry

Spread 2: PDF icon Dimensional Analysis – Visualizing Stoichiometry

Spread 3: PDF icon Stoichiometry with Beads, PDF icon Dimensional Analysis Limiting Reagant - Go all the way to grams

Spread 4: PDF icon Percent Yield

BCA Table Notebook Pages

Spread 1: PDF icon Mole Ratios with BCA Tables


*Webinars Referencing Interactive Notebooks: ChemEd X Chem Basics, October 2021 – Chemical Bonding and Naming and AACT , February 2020 – Teaching Chemistry in a Textbookless Classroom

**I have three PLC colleagues that have supported this work as we always review the pages and talk through content together. Many thanks to Tom Jankowski, Lori Young and Mihir Paranjape.


Students who demonstrate understanding can use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.

*More information about all DCI for HS-PS1 can be found at and further resources at


Students who demonstrate understanding can use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.

Assessment Boundary:

Assessment does not include complex chemical reactions.


Emphasis is on using mathematical ideas to communicate the proportional relationships between masses of atoms in the reactants and the products, and the translation of these relationships to the macroscopic scale using the mole as the conversion from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem - solving techniques.

Join the conversation.

All comments must abide by the ChemEd X Comment Policy, are subject to review, and may be edited. Please allow one business day for your comment to be posted, if it is accepted.

Comments 4

Jessica Davis | Mon, 05/09/2022 - 07:52

Thank you so much for sharing.  I've been wanting to try interactive notebooks, but struggled with the overall put together.  Seeing your outline is a huge help!  Thank you!    

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Mon, 05/23/2022 - 11:50

I'm so glad! Keep watching - I'll be posting all of my units, and I'm presenting a webinar in July to discuss how I integrate interactive notebooks in my chemistry classes.

Chad Husting's picture
Chad Husting | Mon, 07/18/2022 - 06:49

Nora - Love the work you are doing on interactive notebooks.  I was at your chem ed talk and I am going to try this with a class this year.  Quick question...why is the input on the right side and not the left?  My wife who is a preschool teacher was saying she spends her whole year teaching kids to go from left to right....Just curious...Thanks for all that you do.  If you are going to be at BCCE I would love to chat with you.  Thanks again.

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Tue, 07/19/2022 - 10:59

Hello Chad! I'm so glad that you're going to try this with your classes! When I started researching interactive notebooks, all the sources I found consistently said notes on the right and response on the left, and I never really stopped to think about why. So your question got me doing a bit of research. Based on what I found, it seems that they were originally designed with that layout to align with the left brain/right brain idea - facts, analysis, etc on the left and creativity, open-ended response on the right. I'm glad you asked a thought-provoking question!

On a personal note, I like the input being on the right side because to me, in a notebook, that's where your eye goes first. It's the part of the book you tend to hold down when it's open, and is flat on the table. But, I've gotten so used to the content on the right that it may just be my habit at this point. Your wife's point made me giggle - I never thought about us frustrating the hard work of early reading experts but she is certainly correct.

You certainly could flip the layout if you like. Whatever you do, I would be consistent from day one - it will help so much in the long run.

I will be at BCCE and am presenting as part of the ChemEdX symposium. I hope to see you there!