Monday, August 20, 2012

Thinking about using Science Notebooks this year?

     There are so many different approaches to science notebooking and my approach is based on the method developed by FOSS and the Lawrence Hall of Science. I have been to a week long training with them at the NSTA conference in Philly as well as a few other sessions in St. Louis. I have seen a sneak peek into the new 3rd Edition of the FOSS kits and know that notebooking will be embedded in each and every lesson!

But, I also know that science notebooks can be used with any kind of inquiry approach to teaching science. Inquiry is all about questions...which is why we start with Focus Questions for each lesson. But what comes next?

Science Notebooks should be broken into four main components:
  1. Planning the Investigation (includes Focus question, predictions, planning and procedures)
  2. Data Acquisition and Organization - narratives, drawings, charts and tables, artifacts, or graphs
  3. Making Sense of Data - frames and prompts, claims and evidence, conclusions and predictions, and I wonder statements
  4. Reflection and Self-Assessment - teacher feedback, self-assessment and lines of learning
I highly recommend that you read the science notebook folio from FOSS for more information.

For example...what about data? I used to think data was always numbers - graphs, charts, equations, etc... But I have since learned that data is a way to show your thinking and keep track of your observations. We all learn in different ways and so we need to make sure that we give our kids different methods of recording.

Let's talk about DIAGRAMS! Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to draw. Back when I was in school, we never had hands-on experience with science, but if we had...I would have loved drawing scientific diagrams. Perhaps then I wouldn't have had to take Physics twice, Coach Hoy! Anyway, FOSS has developed an acronym that I use to teach my kids about the expectations for diagrams and that is ABCD.

A Accurate
B Big
C Colorful
D Detailed

I have found these suggestions to be super kid friendly and also specific and clear for my students. I'd like to share some samples from former students:

I think all three of these samples show how drawing can take your explanations to another level. By the way, the sticky note on the first example shows an assessment of improvement...but assessment is for another blog!


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  2. I love that acronym! Thanks for sharing that and the link to the science sentence starters.