Use of science notebooks by every student, in every school, every day improves achievement in reading, writing, and science for all students.
- Amaral, Garrison, and Klentschy, 2002
We have included the use of Science notebooks throughout the units to encourage teachers to promote inquiry and allow students to learn to write about science, articulate their thoughts, feelings, questions and ideas, and to begin to think like scientists. We believe they are beneficial for both students and teachers.
Teachers. The use of science notebooks:
- Provides feedback to you regarding the lessons/activities the students are engaging in. A look at student entries provides formative assessment information to help guide your instruction.
- Provides insights into students’ thinking, misconceptions, and their procedural and conceptual understanding.
- Supports differentiated instruction, allowing students to work at their own level.
- Provides evidence of learning.
- Provides a record of learning and growth over time.
- Engages students in meaningful, purposeful and authentic tasks.
- Offers a convenient forum for teachers to provide feedback to students to help them improve their performance or develop deeper understanding.
Students. The use of science notebooks:
- Provides a thinking tool.
- Assists in organization.
- Enhances literacy skills.
- Helps make sense of their observations and investigations.
- Provides a place to keep vocabulary words.
- Replicates how scientists in the field organize and document information and observations.
- Helps develop writing skills.
- Increases communication skills.
- Provides evidence of learning and a record of activities completed.
- Helps develop understanding of scientific processes.
What kind of notebooks should I use?
Some teachers/schools create their own science notebooks with custom covers and pages. Pages can be created so there are lines on one side or page for writing, and a blank side or page for sketching, creating diagrams, etc. Sometimes it is handy to have a grid on one side of the page for more accurate illustrations. Bound composition books make great notebooks. They can be found with the traditional black and white cover, or in a variety of colors. Students can decorate the front.
What is a good way to organize student notebooks?
The first few pages are usually reserved for the Table of Contents. Students continually add to these pages as content is added to the notebook. Many teachers reserve several pages at the end for vocabulary. The words and definitions create a nice easily accessed glossary for students.
What types of information should students keep in their notebooks?
Science notebooks can be used as an integral part of classroom study, and the amount and type of information that can be included is up to you and your creativity!
Students can record observations, procedures, ideas, thoughts, questions, explanations, decriptions, etc. They can also create drawings, charts, tables, and diagrams. Notebooks can be used to keep a log of procedures, observations, results and conclusions of an investigation. Students can use them to take notes, so everything is in a convenient location. Notebooks are a good place to ask students to record their ideas and/or questions, or to answer questions you pose.
For more information about how to use science notebooks, take a look at the following websites:
Science Notebooks in K12 Classrooms
This site will provide just about everything you need to get started using science notebooks in your classroom. Examples of student work are showcased to show the variety of entry types frequently used. PowerPoint presentations, classroom tools, teacher resources and frequently asked questions are also included.
East Bay Educational Collaborative’s Scientist’s Notebook Toolkit
This site offers information, strategies, guides and templates for using science notebooks, as well as links to recent journal articles addressing science notebooks and the literacy of science.
Printed material available:
Campbell, Brian and Fulton, Lori. Science Notebooks, Writing About Inquiry. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 2003.
Douglas, R., Klentschy, M., Worth, K. and Binder, W. Linking Science and Literacy in the K-8 Classroom. NSTA. 2006.
Fulwiler, Betsy Rupp. Writing in Science. Heinemann. 2007.
Klentschy, Michael. Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms. NSTA. 2008.