I love notebooks; the way that it feels when you put down your favorite pencil to the page of a brand new Moleskine and hear the light scratching of your ideas coming to life is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. Then there’s the smell of a new notebook and the look of a well made semi-gloss cover. Needless to say traditional pen and paper hold a special place in my heart. Despite that love, I found that having a traditional notebook (by this I mean a spiral bound, not a Moleskine, I’m not rich) in the classroom has a high number of disadvantages. If I don’t fill it up, it stays half full on a shelf collecting dust until that fateful day where I shamefully throw it in the recycle bin. There are really no good ways to organize them either, the spiral binding makes them a filing nightmare and when are you really going to get in to those old notes?
I searched long and hard for a solution to these issues. I tried taking notes on my laptop and organizing them in different file folders, I used cloud services such as Evernote, and note taking apps such as Notability. All of them failed to reconcile the gap between having the feel of writing, and the ease of organizing and accessing digital notes.
Enter the reusable notebook.
I began my search hopeful that someone somewhere had come up with the idea for a reusable notebook and I wouldn’t have to do any of the leg work. I should have known what the outcome would be, since it’s what almost always ends up happening. I got creative.
My initial search brought up the Wipebook. A great concept, with just one tiny problem, price. The Wipebook’s initial price of $39.99 did a good job of preventing me from buying it (the original Wipebook is now priced at 29.99), I just couldn’t justify spending that much on a notebook, but I wasn’t totally out of luck. I knew a few things about the Wipebook that would eventually lead me towards making my own reusable notebook. For example the markers that were recommended for the Wipebook were the same “map pens” that we used in the military, and I knew that you could use these pens in conjunction with laminated paper, using alcohol wipes to erase to have a pretty decent reusable writing surface. It also appeared as if the Wipebook was just made of technologically enhanced laminated paper. Thus an idea was born.
Originally I made a small notebook of 8 laminated sheets (16 pages). I had it bound at an office supply store, and used it successfully through 4 different courses. Version 1.0 was successful but it came with limitations. Size was the primary issue, but the lamination was also thin and short lived (I used self-adhesive lamination sheets that didn’t require a laminator).* Another problem arose when I realized that the template that I had chosen just didn’t meet my needs. I had problems, so I began to work out solutions.
*I should clarify, the self adhesive lamination was actually quite durable, but just from the feel of it one gets the impression that it wouldn’t last as long as a thicker lamination.
The Notebook 2.0
25 sheets (50 pages), heat laminated (3mm lamination pouches) with fully customized template. I can use any dry erase, or wet erase markers, but in my opinion the markers that work the best are the Staedtler Permanent Markers. To erase just use alcohol swabs, a paper towel sprayed with alcohol, or even a high-polymer eraser*.
*high polymer erasers work, but I haven’t been using them for long enough at the time of this writing to know the long term effects on the laminate. Use at your own risk.
As you’ll see below and in the templates that are included here, there is a black border around the design. This border allows you to take pictures of the page with note taking apps like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote, the app then recognizes the borders and cuts out anything surrounding them leaving you with neat pages.