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How-To: Teach Elementary Science

Science Notebooks: How to Assess
Natasha Cooke-Nieves

Science Notebooks are NOT:

  • Journals, which are usually student reflections with entries beginning with “Today in Science class I…”. 
  • Logs, which are primarily entries of student data.  In a log, students will record the data and refer to their data but not reflect it or analyze it in logs.

Science Notebooks ARE:

  • Tools for students to not only record their data but to synthesize and think about their findings.   Notebooks are meant as a recording device for students to eventually share their data with their classmates.

SCIENCE NOTEBOOKING

            

WAYS TO FORMATIVELY ASSESS STUDENT SCIENCE NOTEBOOKING:

  • Use rubrics to focus on progress: from beginning, to approaching, to met, to advanced—monitoring stages of predicting; recording and organizing (notes, technical drawings, labeled diagrams, charts, tables, graphs); drawing; questioning; reflecting; using their own notebooks as resources; and , finally; self-assessing. 
  • Determine if your students can compose their reflections without a prompt?

                     

  • Questions to ask yourself as a teacher (focus on one of these questions or multiple questions:
    • Are student’s labeling their diagrams/drawings?
    • What types of questions are your students asking: comparison (How are rocks different from minerals?), investigable (What happens if I add one more light bulb to the circuit?), problem-posing  (How can we attract more butterflies if we change their food?)
    • Are your students able to organize their own data by creating an appropriate tool (e.g. chart, table)?
    • How and when do students record data in their notebooks?
    • How and when do students choose to use information in their notebooks as a resource for further investigations?
    • How and when do students choose to share information with their peers?
    • How do students enhance their drawings (e.g. color)?
    • Do students ask valuable questions in their notebooks upon reflection, i.e. not just intermingled with their observations?
    • Do students organize or group their valuable questions in their notebooks?

Resources
  Campbell, Brian & Fulton, Lori (2003). Science Notebooks: Writing about Inquiry. New Hampshire: Heinemann.

  Michael Klentschy. (2008). Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms. VA: National Science Teacher Association Press.

Questions or comments? E-mail me.

 

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