Science Notebook/Journal

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Science Notebook/Journal

When reading the Foss article/information (which I have read previously) it reminded me of the importance of the science journals.  Specifically, the idea of cognitive engagement really struck a chord with me currently in my practices. I see a lot of apathy within my students and by giving structure to our learning it helps builds that physical engagement with the class practices and ultimately will build the cognitive portion as well.

I am currently using science journals/notebooks in my classroom.  We use Foss Kits for our main curriculum and supplement that curriculum with other sources.  So, my students journals are set up using the materials and handouts that are notetaking, data, and explanation based practices. The one thing that I add on to what Foss already has with their premade sheets is model making.  I firmly believe that drawing, diagraming, or explaining in model form helps students grasp and evaluate their thinking about a particular subject.

Biggest advantage from my perspective is the organization of the material from the start of the year to the end.  I give the students a little bit of flexibility with in their journal to put things on different pages, but every time we start a new unit/subject area we all start on the next available page for all students.  I do this because we do use a table of contents in the front of our journal and this small break in pages for students allows the flexibility to put things in their own way, while still completing the required work. Another advantage of being organized with the journal is that we have the information all year long.  Having information from the start of the year to the end allows the students to continue to make deeper more meaningful connections all year. Before doing journals when we would start a new unit, students would clean out their folder and in most cases clean out their memory of that topic before moving onto the new topic.  With the journal, they have this information in front of them all year long.  

Disadvantage for me is the time frame, I read another post and completely agree with what they said about how there is a major discrepancy in the speed in which students work.  This difference in time can cause some behavioral issues and instruction timing issues. I typically have additional work ready to go for when students are done before their peers, the part I struggle with is giving enough time for the slower paced workers (the ones that are thinking and working hard, not the ones that just sit there doing nothing) to clearly define their thoughts before moving on.