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Evaluation and Assessment

Using Science Notebooks for Assessment/Evaluation

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Julie Morales Julie Morales 440 Points

I feel that science notebooks can be a great way to evaluate and assess students. Science notebooks give students a place to document their thinking and changes in their thinking during the learning process. As students document their thinking, teachers can check for understanding, which can then facilitate more discussion. Science notebooks provide a record of both student thinking and scientific investigations. Students’ notebooks can serve as assessments for learning, rather than assessments for grading. Teachers can continuously gather information on student teaching and learning with students’ notebooks in order to make data-informed decisions to plan or adjust instructional activities.

Naimah Urfi Naimah Urfi 1075 Points

Hi Julie, I love what you said about science interactive notebooks serving as assessments for learning rather than assessments for grading. I see the importance of that statement because having a book of student's honest notes, drawings and thoughts is a great tool for teachers to use to track students' progress and know what lesson objectives need to be retaught. It is a great learning resource that can be used on a regular daily basis, and students can use it as a recollection of their own ideas if they need to study or remember something they forgot about. Personally, I understand things better when I write down my own notes and thoughts, and I can only believe students do the same when it is legible to them and made sense from the beginning. There are so many opportunities to store classroom activities and assignments in interactive notebooks as well, and that is a great way for students to have everything in one place. I have grown to become very fond on interactive notebooks because I have seen it work for so many teachers and students! Best of luck!

Karina Herrera Karina Herrera 485 Points

Hello Julie! You brought up a good topic. Interactive science notebooks can absolutely be a good form of evaluating and accessing learning, especially for the lower grades (K-2). It may be kind of challenging to give the little ones a set of questions (quiz) to complete, and then have to access there comprehensions based on that. It may also be difficult to give out questions because some students may not be proficient readers. Personally, I am a student teacher, planning a 5E science lesson over living and nonliving things. What I decided to do for the evaluation portion is that I will provide students with a sentence stem which they will complete in their interactive science notebook. Then I was planning to go back and read over what they wrote, and determine if what was taught was comprehended by them. If I was to notice that there sentences do not match up to what was taught, then as you said I could gather that information and make decision of re-teaching or adjusting future instruction.

Minnu Messiahdas Minnu Messiahdas 7020 Points

Tiffany Alfaro Tiffany Alfaro 810 Points

Aloha Julie! I completely agree with your post. I will be entering my student teaching semester in a couple of months and I am currently taking my elementary Science methods class. We were briefly introduce to science notebooks in our readings and it was like an eye opener to me! I never knew that something as simple as a science notebook can be used in such a huge way in the classroom! Thank you for your input on the subject. 

Callie Cook Callie Cook 714 Points

I have seen a lot of teachers that use science notebooks only for the grade of organization and having the material in them. I think it is a very interesting concept to use them more as a tool to asses what the students are understanding. it would also be good to review at the end of the year and see the subjects tat need to be reviewed most. This would be assuming you also keep a grade log in their with the units. A grade log if you give enough assements could also help with review before each test. 

Ashley GIbson Ashley GIbson 775 Points

Hi Julie,

I also agree that science notebooks are an excellent way to assess students academic development. Science notebooks are a great way for students to show and communicate their understanding of concepts. Science notebooks also provide real-time evidence of the student's progression throughout the year. Also, science notebooks encourage students to record their observations and reflect upon them. All in all, I completely agree with your stance about the use of science notebooks within the classroom. 


Ashley Gibson 

Sidney Baumgartner Sidney Baumgartner 335 Points

Hello Julie,

I am a third year at Wartburg College in Iowa and loved reading your and other respondent’s thoughts on science journals. I would agree with you that science journals may be a great tool for educators to check their student’s understanding and have students write down their learning or thinking. I have seen both successful and unsuccessful science journals in my educational career. For a successful science journal, one of my teachers used these journals as a feedback item for her teaching. She would use journals as a check for understanding (formative assessment) and use what she found in student’s journals to navigate the unit. She would either continue to the next lesson or reteach what students were not quite getting. An unsuccessful science journal that I participated in was in my biology class. My teacher would make us use these as more “arts and crafts” time, rather than allowing us to write down our thinking or learning. This way of doing an interactive science journal was not beneficial for my learning, making it more of a chore. As a future educator, I do think science journals would be a great tool to check understanding and provide feedback to us to reflect on our teaching, something we all need to do more! Thanks for sharing!

Paige Morrison Paige Morrison 395 Points

Hi Julie! I am a third-year, preservice teacher at Wartburg College and I think that your views on using notebooks to assess students are extremely helpful! I love the idea of students assessing themselves through their journals as they go - which would be done by writing down their thinking processes for the teacher to see eventually. I also think that allowing students to document their thinking processes while a learning experience is taking place will encourage their use of higher-order thinking skills. I think that as they write down their ideas, they will feel more confident to discuss in class as they will have a structured plan of what they might want to say. I especially loved the sentence where you mentioned that the journals can act as an assessment for learning, rather than grading. I feel like as educators, we focus a lot on what we can grade, but we should also focus on what our students can be learning. There's an entire world at our fingertips to use in observations and hands-on learning experiences. Using a journal to document experiences is something that not only can check for student-understanding, but also for student interests and student excitement within the science lessons. I really enjoyed reading this post, thanks for sharing!

Megan Doty Megan Doty 11847 Points

Hi Julie, I actually found an article in the Learning Center that speaks to your point! Check it out at the link below: Let me know what you think! Megan

Kia Widen Kia Widen 3658 Points

Hi Julie! I am currently in a class at UNI and we have digital science notebooks, I love when students get to write in an actual science journal, but the digital notebooks I think could be fun for older students so that they can take pictures and practice their technology uses in the classroom. It also gives them an outlet and other options if they don't like handwriting or drawing out what they observed. It also allows them to take videos and go back to what exactly happened in the lesson. Just another creative option to think about! Thank you for your great thoughts on science notebooks! Kia

Callie Cook Callie Cook 714 Points

I have never heard of digital science notebooks! I would love to hear more about it if you have any details. The digital notebooks seem like they could be a really good tool for the older students. I could see doing one with the One Note. I think that would make it a little easier to grade and keep organized. However, I could also see how using it online might also need a hard copy companion to keep all the worksheets together for it. 

Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points


i like the idea of a digital notebook.  Taking pictures can be very helpful and would lend to a very diverse catalog of pictures based on what the student sees and where.  I have not used this format yet and think it would be interesting.  I wonder if it would be helpful to alsop have the students create pages they could share with each other and have the person they share it with fill it out.  This could be a great way to collaborate using technology without being in a group at school.  Perhaps a digital gallery walk would work nicely with the digial notebook.

Krystal Brea Krystal Brea 4080 Points

Hey Julie, I think interactive notebooks are great. Keeping a science notebook encourages student to reflect on inquiry observations, activities and investigations. It is a great way for students to demonstrate their understanding of science concepts and for teachers to provide feedback. It's a good way for students to use writing as a process for discovery. They help students appreciate the process of scientific inquiry and it is a unique way of assessing student learning and organization.

Alexandra Doty Alexandra Doty 190 Points


I am a pre-service elementary teacher at the University of Arkansas. My professor asked the students to get a science notebook for our activities we do during class. Before using the notebook, she explained to us all the benefits and stipulations that come with science notebooking. Personally, I think it is a great opportunity for my fellow classmates and I to experience ourselves before introducing into our future classrooms. A science notebook allows for organized thoughts, observations, and scientific explanations. Literacy can also be improved through use of a notebook, which is great for integrating subjects! Overall, I agree with what you and others have said about science notebooks and can't wait to introduce the concept to my future elementary students.

Alexandra Doty

Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points

As a new teacher, I have to agree that the idea of using science notebooks is helpful for students.  I have not used them during my first year as a teacher of middle school students.  I will, however, be moving to a high school next year where I know this is the format that is used.  I like that this is a way for students to organize, illustrate, define, have examples all in one place.  This will hopefully make it easy to grade.

Julienne Buendia Julienne Buendia 535 Points

I agree with using notebooks for assessment and evaluation. I use it for Reading and English. I see that it could also benefit using this in science. The science notebooks will help students understand misconceptions as well as teachers understanding what concepts to address. 

Kayla Herman Kayla Herman 1575 Points

Hi Julienne,

I had never thought about using science notebooks for assessment or evaluation before. I have seen reading notebooks used before, as you mention they are more common. However, there are surely benefits for science, too. I like the point you made about misconceptions being addressed through these notebooks.

They could almost be used as a checkpoint for teachers to evaluate which students need more support or which students are ready to move on. I am wondering if these could be used for pre-assessments as well. After reading through the posts in this discussion, I researched rubrics to use for science notebooks. These could be used for accountability for the student and teacher. So, not only would these notebooks give the teachers a way to communicate with students back and forth but they would provide an opportunity for teachers to collect data and evaluate student growth. The students could use these notebooks to reflect on the growth they have made over time whether it be over the course of a lesson, unit, school year, etc. So many ideas forming!

Kayla Herman

Natalie Skalla Natalie Skalla 2040 Points

Hi Julie, I am currently a student at the University of Northern Iowa and just finished up taking my science methods class. Within this class our professor had us use science notebooks using seesaw. I really enjoyed this method of assessing and evaluating us. It was something I knew we weren’t being graded on but it was a way of showing the teacher what was going on in the class in our groups without watching over ever persons back. I like that you used the phrase “it’s a place to document their thinking and changes in their thinking during the learning process” It can be used to show teachers where maybe a misconception arises or turning point for better understanding. I think science notebooks are a great resource to use in the classroom for assessment and evaluation and also students learning process.

Katie Weitzel Katie Weitzel 940 Points


I love science notebooks! I think they are great resources to use in the classroom. I believe it is also a great way to monitor assessment. Students will feel more relaxed writing in their science journals versus taking a paper pencil test. Science journals also can be hands on, which is a huge plus! Students love anything hands on, so it is a great bonus. Science journals are overall a great thing to implement in the classroom. The teacher could have a 'notebook check' once or twice a week so they can quickly assess where the students are. This is so great because then the teacher can monitor student work and redirect the lesson and reteach if necessary. Great thoughts!

Katie Weitzel 

Francisca Rayho Francisca Rayho 225 Points

In 4th grade, my teacher had us use a notebook for science. I love this idea because you, as a teacher, can evaluate what topics need to be retaught and what have stuck! It is also an awesome study guide for students if you did give a test. It has all the information that was gone over in class as well as being easy to transport!

Sebrina Webster Sebrina Webster 2215 Points

Julie, I agree compeletely! Science notebooks are a great way to assess students throughout their learning process. I've seen these a lot in the younger grades because sometimes giving younger students formal summative assessments is difficult, but with these notebooks it's more clear and easier for teachers to know what students have a good understanding of and what they do not. They can also be a place for students to get creative with drawings, charts, and diagrams that best fit their learning! Great way to get infromation from/about your students! 

Julieth Hernandez julieth hernandez 320 Points

Science notebooks are such a great form of evaluation! checking notebooks and making sure they are up to date ensures that the students are grasping the information being taught. completing labs and including tabs in your notebook to seperate assignements is a great idea. i currently have a science notebook for my current science class and it is a great way to remain engaged and participating. it is also a great form of evaluation for my teacher so she can see that i am understanding the content being taught. 

Alexa Montas alexa montas 4335 Points

I believe that having Science notebooks are a great way to assess students. I believe that having these notebooks benefit the teacher and student because the teacher is able to see the strengths and weaknesses that the student is having with a particular topic. The teacher can see the way the thought process that goes into the work of the student. It also benefits the students because the students will have the freedom to practice their work with their way of thinking. Students will most likely feel more comforatble working in their own journals, where they can express their work in their words or way of thinking. The article 'Assessing Students as Scientists' by Rosemary S. Russ and Luke Conlin (found on this sight) is a helpful article to come up with ways to asses your students! Check it out!

Emily Kramer Emily Kramer 1935 Points

Hi Alexa!

I agree that having science notebooks is a great way to assess students. I also think that they are a great way to see our students improvement over the course of the semester/year. Sometimes in the classroom we can get caught up in having discussions, and using that as a formative assessment, but I think that it is really important to do other things to see what individuals are thinking. Science notebooks are very common, but I think that as long as the teachers are doing engaging activities with the students and just using science notebooks to keep track of student thinking they can be a great tool!

Sushmi Reddy Sushmi Reddy 20 Points



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I saw a few people mentioning digital notebooks. A GREAT tool for this is Google Slides. You can create them and make some things (like the titles) 'frozen' but allow students to edit the rest of the pages. Then, simply share it (using Schoology, Google Classroom, whatever your LMS) and then students could be doing this from their computer. I'm looking into this for student portfolios next year, and I think things like this will be especially important given how next school year could look!

Here is a link to a video that does a fantastic job breaking this down, step by step.

Carolina Acanda Carolina Acanda 605 Points

Hi! I completely agree with you! I think science notebooks are a great way to evaluate and assess the students' understanding of the content. They can be checked every day, week, and/or month to see the students' progress in the class. It is an informal evaluation that gives insight into their daily thoughts about the subject. This helps us teachers do two things at once: see how the students are learning and grade their work.


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