Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Thoughts on Science Notebooks

  I'm surprised I haven't posted about this before since I use this strategy on a daily basis.  I have three classes of science students, but only one teacher's version of the science notebook.  I know some teachers keep 1 notebook for each class, but I honestly don't know how they do that.

 I keep my notebooking as efficient as possible.  First of all, I set up everything before my classes begin instead of setting up my notebook with my students.  I cut and glue foldables, draw charts, write objectives and sentence stems...pretty much everything is done before class.  Occasionally I have a good idea during a lesson and I add it in at the time.

 I just put the notebook under the document camera and project it.  Students set up their notebooks to look like mine.

 At the beginning of the year, I needed the time to help students having trouble with setting up.  Now it gives me additional time to check in with students (for behavioral, academic, or emotional reasons).

Blanks and Blank Spaces
  Because our science notebooks are interactive, I leave lots of blank spaces for students to fill in information during our discussion/lesson.  I use these even more during the beginning of the year.  Now that we are in the last quarter of school, they're much better about forming sentences on their own.  I still offer them because of my ELLs and inclusion students.

  I don't fill in the blanks in my notebook.  It's the students' thoughts and ideas from discussion.  I don't want them to just straight up copy everything I write.
Sticky Notes
  If I want to discuss something before revealing an "answer", I use sticky tabs or cut up post-it notes.  These little notes are all over my projector cart because I use them ALL THE TIME.  Any time you don't want to reveal something right away, sticky it!

  Notebooking, to me, is less about notes and more about thinking.  Reflection, or "output", is the single most important part of our notebooks.  I don't write reflections anymore.  I modeled it for months as students learned how to appropriately reflect on their learning.   What my students choose to write is more important than what I choose for them to write.  
  They get about 10-15 minutes to reflect after a lesson.  We call it the "I Learned" page.  They spend the whole time reflecting on their notes and creatively showing their understanding.

  I shared a pic recently on Facebook of some student "I Learned" pages.  These are from a class that struggled with reflections for a long time, but one day it seriously just clicked for them.  It's really impressive how far they've come!  There are personal connections, new examples, a comic, and a creative labeled drawing.  {Look for new posts about reflections soon.}


  1. Thanks for sharing! I started the year with interactive notebooks but lost my steam. I look forward to trying again next year!

  2. Thanks for the great ideas. I have two classes and one notebook and I'm still trying to work out how to do that efficiently. You have given me some new things to think about as I revamp for next year.

    Math is Elementary

  3. I like the idea of having the notebook set up ahead of time. I never really thought of that!!

    Teaching in Room 6

  4. Would you consider sharing your teacher's notebook on TpT?

  5. Would you consider sharing your teacher's notebook on TpT?

  6. Thanks for sharing! I have been doing Lines of Learning in science for two years now and it gives me a chance to see what they got out of the lesson and if it was accurate or not. Plus it gives them a chance to turn and talk to one another to converse about their thinking yet also giving them an opportunity to challenge and correct one another's thinking.


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