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General Science and Teaching

Lab Notebooks/Journals and Lecture Notes

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Theo Pinson Theo Pinson 120 Points

So, in my department, we've wrestled a lot with student organization and resources. Last year, I decided to start using lab notebooks, where students completed all of their lab reports and also did journaling. We created custom workbooks that included all of the worksheets, etc for the unit and had several pages of notebook paper for students to take lecture notes. While this was great because students had all of their notes with them when completing homework assignments, it presented a problem when we got to the end of the semester for finals because all of their notes were in separate workbooks and many students had lost them. I'm trying to find a better alternative but haven't been able to decide. One idea is to have students take notes in their lab notebooks. Has anyone tried this? I like the idea of having one central location for paper, but I generally like to encourage students to leave their lab notebooks in the classroom, which would mean they wouldn't have it for homework. What do you guys think?

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43125 Points

Theo, this is definitely a time honored question we all visit at this time of year. There have been several posts involving Science Notebooks in the past, so I am going to link them here instead of reiterating what has been shared. The advantage is you will be able to see conversations over time. These are the hits that are directly related to your initial question. If you do a search within the Learning Center using the keywords “Science Notebooks”, there are many more hits that will take you to posts that have the word “notebooks” in them that might be of interest as well. Evaluation and Assessment>Science Notebook http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=YADbCA!plus!hIgc_E#40320 General Science and Teaching>Middle School Notebooking http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=zKy4JMe1cmM_E#38316 Elementary Science>Lapbooking http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=E5T/0Z49uQo_E#29845 I know one of the technology tools I am looking at incorporating along with the graphing notebook, composition style versus tear out or spiral bound, is the use of One Note. I have been to several conferences where I have seen this used very effectively. The advantages are notes can be synced between devices, notes shared with others, and the ability to access the files immediately. The learning curve is a little high, but worth the time. With Microsoft 365 becoming a reality in many districts, students will have access to information from anywhere as well. Obviously using OneNote requires technology, but most students have access to it now. The downside is training them to use the program as well. There is another program, Evernote that has been used similarly. I am attaching my “Science Notebook” collection. There are a variety of articles and resources collected from NSTA publications and conferences. Good luck with your notebooking this year. I am anxious to hear what you decide to do.

Notebooks Collection (29 items)
Theo Pinson Theo Pinson 120 Points

Wow, thanks for the in-depth reply!

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

Theo, I did something similar in my classes and had the students keep their notes in a 3-ring binder all year. We also had similar problems of things getting lost when the unit was over. I wonder if after each unit you had students "bind" their notes (put large pieces of colored paper over them, and, of course, illustrate the covers!) and then you collected them and stored them until the end of the year to pass back before the final they would be like a portfolio to remind students of what was learned and to help them study for the final? I currently use a different notebooking system and I am still working on it, too :-) But based on what you described, this sounded like an option that might fit in with what you are already doing (and I wish I had thought to do this for my own classes :P ). Hindsight is wonderful, isn't it? Well, there is always next year for me!

Mary Ann Ng Mary Ann Ng 3385 Points

I like your binding idea.

Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

I use composition books for journaling with my students. They keep weekly "bell ringer" pages, lab observations, data and conclusions, answers to questions from NASA Now videos (I am a NASA Explorer School teacher), as well as all other notes all in this one book. I have had a few students lose theirs over the years, but is is only 1 or 2 and it becomes their job to get information from lab partners to rebuild their journal in a new composition book.

Carmen Cruz Carmen Cruz 2125 Points

I also used journals in my classroom and allowed them to go home, I had very few seldom come back because students new that if they happened not to bring it back they would owe me observation time during a lab- meaning they merely got to observe rather than have a hands on experimental observation and unfortunately they had to stand in front of the observation deck which was the board. All students dreaded this and all it took was one student to set the example and then it almost never happened again. The journals are very empowering to students and they take great ownership of them if given the responsibility.

Rebecca Falin Rebecca Falin 71530 Points

I also use the composition books as "science notebooks." I have a 6-cube shelf, one cube for each class, and they are to leave their notebooks there on Fridays for me to grade over the weekend. I have them record a variety of things, including lab data and conclusions, reflections, flow charts, venn diagrams. Today we did the Ob-sertainer activity (Lab-Aids); I use it as an introduction to the history of the development of our modern atomic theory. They recorded their individual "hypotheses" for what was in each "black box," a team consensus on what was in the box and finally what was actually in the box from a key. (I tape the boxes shut so they can't look). Then they had to write a few sentences about how they could determine what was in the box without seeing it. Journals are great for these kinds of activities.

Adah Stock Adah Stock 101510 Points

Theo: I used the composition book and any work was either written in or pasted in from handouts. They never left my room until the end of the year. I had baskets for each section and students went to the basket to find their notebooks at the beginning of the class as they entered the room. The first person in was asked to locate the basket and place it up front so others could find them easily. If they were the second class of the day the student took last periods basket and put it away and then found their periods basket. Adah

Another technology option that is becoming popular is Evernote but it works best in a one-to-one environment. Personally I am a fan of composition books and feel they can be used for everything students do in class. Notes, labs, diagrams, reflections, formative assessments, etc can all be integrated into the journal.

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