LiveBinders in the Classroom

What is LiveBinders.com?

LiveBinders.com is a website that enables the user to create virtual three-ring binders of digital files including, but not limited to, YouTube videos, Google docs, DropBox files, images, websites, text files, and much more!  Essentially, LiveBinders allows the user to create notebooks for any purpose right on the computer.

How Does it Work?

LiveBinders is an online three-ring binder that works essentially by allowing users to create notebooks with tabs to organize information.  Once a user has created a notebook and tabs within the notebook, the next step is to add content, which is fairly straightforward by clicking the “+ Content” button and then selecting the type of content to be added.  The user can create as many tabs as he/she wants within a notebook, but can only have one level of “sub tabs” with the free version and a maximum of five free notebooks.  There are other paid packages available to teachers and schools in order to receive more storage, sub tabs, and collaborative capabilities, but the free version can be effective in the classroom.  Users can customize their notebooks by selecting cover images, fonts, and colors.  Notebooks can be kept private or shared out to the public—or even select groups via private access keys.  Use rs can even create their own bookshelves, sort their notebooks accordingly, and share their bookshelves with others.  LiveBinders also comes with the a feature similar to Evernote entitled “LiveBinder It” that enables users to send content from the web to a specific notebook by simply clicking on the feature in the bookmarks bar.

Classroom Uses for LiveBinders

There are SO MANY great ways to use LiveBinders in the classroom!  Some of these include:

For Teachers

  • To organize unit plans
  • To “flip” the classroom and provide teaching modules for students to view at home
  • To provide substitute lesson plans for tech-savvy substitutes
  • To keep makeup work for students that can be categorized by class period—SUPER HELPFUL!
  • To maintain notes about specific students or classes
  • To organize homework activities and projects for students
  • To track the Common Core in each class by creating tabs for each skill and documenting lessons that meet each one
  • To keep track of group progress within classes by creating tabs for each group and recording the status of each group
  • To organize class notes, handouts, worksheets, videos, etc. for each class, unit, or learning target
  • To organize presentations, lectures, and lessons for classes
  • To house parent newsletters for classes and include photos & videos of students in action
  • To collaborate with other teachers and team members on units, lessons, and curriculum
  • To create Web Quests and virtual fieldtrips for students
  • To create summer reading lists & summer workbooks
  • To create reviews of course material
  • To create presentations for professional development
  • To create a course guide for parents including classroom policies and procedures, course syllabus, etc.
  • To organize administrative procedures for an entire school and/or department

For Students

  • To organize class notes across subject areas and units of study
  • To keep and organize handouts, worksheets, and notes for classes—BYE BYE to physical binders and hole-punching handouts!
  • To organize research for research projects and essays
  • To organize annotations for research, classwork, reading assignments, etc.
  • To create presentations of information to share with the class
  • To interact with fellow students in class in a whole new way by “swapping” notebooks digitally and commenting on them or asking questions
  • To create “books” or e-portfolios to showcase work
  • To keep track of personal growth by reflecting back on assignments and creating tabs specifically for reflection & metacognitive thinking
  • To write original storybooks, graphic novels, novels, and other pieces of creative writing and publish them digitally
  • To essentially replace any function of the physical binder in the classroom—saving paper and supplies in an easier format to share out to the world

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to organize information
  • Various uses for the classroom
  • Decent free version
  • Students can comment on and rate notebooks

Cons

  • Limited storage & notebooks with the free version
  • A bit “clunky” to use and not as seamless as other options (i.e. more keystrokes to accomplish simple tasks)
  • Not aesthetically pleasing to look at although some customization is available
  • Tabs can get crowded on the page and make it difficult to navigate and view (primary complaint)

There are other programs available that accomplish the same tasks as LiveBinders such as BlendSpace and Evernote.  Selecting which one to use is all a matter of experimentation and taste.  Evernote has beautiful and simplistic aesthetics and is user-friendly while BlendSpace creates multimedia portfolios in an approachable visual format.  The great thing about teaching on the secondary level is that we can have our students try these options and evaluate them as part of the reflective processes.  Students can report back to the class which program they used, how they used it, and what they thought of it. This evaluative process pushes students to think about their process and not just the final products they create.

Have you ever tried LiveBinders with your classes?  How did you use it, and what did you think about it?  Please join the conversation in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you!


About the Author

Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and BespokeClassroom.com.  She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University.  She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas.  Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.