Classroom Resource: Student scientist notebooks encourage literacy in the sciences

Image courtesy of Reading Rockets

Skills critical for growing strong readers and writers are also core skills in science and mathematics.  Predicting, understanding cause and effect, understanding sequence, acquiring a rich vocabulary, building background knowledge and developing the ability to read and write informational text are some of the skills explored in the Literacy in the Sciences series.

Among a wealth of strategies available to teachers is the use of science notebooks, which encourages students to record and reflect on inquiry-based observations, activities, investigations and experiments.  The notebooks provide an excellent way for students to communicate an understanding of science concepts and for teachers to provide students with feedback.

Addressing the science standard of unifying concepts and processes in science, a sample science notebook on the behavior of mealworms for grades 3-4 models the way scientists really work — recording their observations, ideas, drawings and other illustrations such as charts, tables, models and graphs, along with their questions, ideas and reflections in a running record of their thinking.

A template is also provided for use on a classroom chart, poster or overhead transparency, with an individual copy for each student that includes the parts of a notebook from title page to glossary.  Also available are grade-level sentence starters and technology suggestions for older and more advanced students to keep an online science notebook and create a blog to comment on and compare their findings.

At teachers can find out more about science notebooks.

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