Last week I wrote about using journal writing with middle school students and provided examples of a variety of journals that could be used with middle school age kids. Today, I share a more in-depth look at using learning logs or reflection journals in your science curriculum.
Reflection journals provide students with an opportunity to summarize what they have learned. Students are encouraged to reflect upon what they have learned, record any questions they may still have about the particular topic of study, and to communicate their understanding of the material. An interactive science journal is a creative, hands-on approach to doing just that.
An Interactive Science Journal or Notebook is a fun and engaging way to get students interested in the content they are learning about. Interactive notebooks allow for the information being discussed to be compartmentalized into chunks of information. I have found when information is broken down into smaller bits that students retain the information at a much higher level. When you throw in an interactive element into the graphic organizer the retention is that much more effective.
The true interactive part of the notebooks are when students use the information provided to elicit their own responses or outputs in the journal. This requires higher level thinking and ultimately allows the students to make a deeper connection to their learning. Once students understand what outputs are, they appreciate the opportunity to select their own and often refer to these exercises as “fun”.
Some teachers utilize a dual page format where one page is the input (where students get info from reading, video, observations, lecture, etc.) and the other is the output (where they make sense of that input). Outputs ensure that every time students learn something, they have time to digest and process the material.
I feel that this tends to be a bit limiting, requires more careful planning in advance, and thus often a waste of space. I thereby allow students the freedom to utilize their notebook in whatever way works best for them. I encourage them to take lecture notes, keep an ongoing glossary of terms, and adhere the interactive pieces as we progress.
Interactive science notebooks allow students to be totally creative with their notebooks. They are an open-ended, hands-on tool that provide students with an opportunity to make connections with what they are learning in class and provide time for them to think and reflect.
I encourage you to allow the students to come up with their own examples and sketches. Let the students come up with their own responses to short situational prompts. Allowing the students to make their own connections will ensure that the material is not forgotten.
Interactive science notebooks work very well as a warm-up to labs and lecture. Use the time students are cutting and pasting to review material from the prior lesson or to review for an upcoming assessment. Encourage them to use their notebooks as a study guide and reference tool.
Intrigued? Then join me next week when I will discuss how to get started in using Interactive Science Notebooks.