May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

The How (and Why) of Science Notebooking in the Classroom

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Clea Matson

“The science notebooks get all the students involved and interested in science. Whether they like to write, or like to draw, or like asking questions, there is an entry point for all of them.” – Erica, 5th Grade teacher, San Francisco

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) ask teachers and students to spend more time thinking and working like scientists. As Karen Cerwin mentioned in her article posted in August, 2016, notebooks are a tool that scientists use to record, reason, and share ideas. From her perspective as Regional Director for K-12 Alliance, Cerwin identifies ways in which science notebooks can be powerful tools for sense-making in the elementary classroom. The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) has created an online library of resources called Science Notebook Corner in order to provide support to teachers state and nationwide in making use of these powerful thinking tools.

What is the Science Notebook Corner?

Science Notebook Corner is a website where elementary and middle school science teachers can explore and find ideas for how to use notebooks as thinking tools in their classrooms. The site includes resources for teachers who have never used notebooks before, as well as advanced tools to help students use notebooks to collect and analyze data, reflect on or organize new knowledge, give feedback, etc. This growing collection of tools and strategies is intended to be a resource that teachers can incorporate into the science that they are already teaching.

Where did these tools and strategies come from?

Over the past eight years, the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at CAS has worked with over 300 local teachers to increase the amount and quality of science in elementary classrooms. Science notebooks have become a pillar or our work and teachers tell us that they’ve continued to use notebooks in their science classrooms years after they graduated from our Institute. In our classroom observations, we have witnessed hundreds of teachers making use of science notebooks, and are continually learning new strategies from them. We created Science Notebook Corner in order to share what we’ve learned with teachers beyond the physical reach of our Institute.

Some of the outside sources that influence and inform our work include this resource for dialogue, reading, and writing in science which is co-authored by Arthur Beauchamp from the Sacramento Area Science Project, as well as Betsy Fulwiler’s work on writing in science.

Where should I start?

“I am excited to have this wonderful knowledge base at my fingertips. I am excited to present the notebooks to my classes on the first day of school. I think that this will keep students organized and will help when meeting with parents […]. Please continue supporting busy teachers.” -Teacher, Helendale School District, CA

When you visit Science Notebook Corner, you might wonder, “Where should I begin?” Some of the most exciting parts of this resource are the notebook galleries, featuring actual notebooks from students and teachers. This is a great starting place, especially if you already use notebooks in your classroom and want inspiration for new strategies to use with your students. If you find a set of examples in a gallery that are interesting, you can then navigate to the page that describes the strategies that support that student work.

If you are new to science notebooks, welcome! We recommend beginning with “Setting Up Your Science Notebook,” where you can find strategies for introducing notebooks to your classroom, guiding students to set up their science notebook as a tool and method of ownership, and setting up routines for using them during science time. There is also a growing library of short videos, which share motivation and strategies for using science notebooks in the elementary classroom.

Whether you are looking to expand what you already do with science notebooks, or you are intrigued by the idea of using notebooks to support students’ scientific practice and want a step-by-step guide to begin, we hope that you find something useful within this resource, and we welcome your feedback.

Clea Matson is a Teacher Educator and Instructional Coach at the California Academy of Sciences and is a member of CSTA.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

One Response

  1. Over 24 years ago, I began my notebook journey while participating in a summer fellowship at LBNL. There we met Dr. Glenn Seaborg, where he shared one of his notebooks in which he discovered Plutonium. Inside his numerous notebooks, was the Science, Art, Math and his personal experiences and interactions with the various presidents as well as the History of the time. A few of us became privy, and from there I designed my notebooks. Yes, they are ever evolving aligned not only to the NGSS but the Common Core. They become a staple component within my curriculum.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.