The Value of Science Notebooks

The science notebook is an essential learning and thinking tool for students. Much more than a record of observations, data and facts, it is a place for students to make sense of collected information, think through problems posed by the teacher, and generate their own investigable questions. These thoughts and questions become valuable resources for others, as students collectively construct their understandings of big science ideas and present evidence-based explanations for natural phenomena. Since the notebook also serves as a sequential log of learning activities, it provides a personal platform for students to reflect upon their emerging thoughts and convey how their understandings have changed over time. When using the notebook, the key is to have students actively do something with their ideas, and by utilizing a variety of entry types, the teacher is able to support differentiated learning among students. With practice and encouragement, students become better at expressing their thoughts in writing, which is a skill indispensable not only to science, but to all disciplines.

Advantages for Students:
-assists in organization
-fosters critical thinking skills
-enhances literacy and communication skills
-serves as reference and resource for future reflection
-opportunity to engage in authentic scientific practices

Advantages for Teachers:
-enables assessment of student thinking to inform future instruction
-serves as record of ongoing student learning and thinking
-increases student participation
-supports differentiated instruction
-place to provide individualized feedback