Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills

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Using Science Notebooks to
Develop Literacy Skills
Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching,
2015
Tracey Ramirez
Professional Learning Facilitator, K–5 Science
2015
Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
This session...
•  Why use notebooks in science?
•  What should we ask students to write about in science?
•  What strategies will help students be successful?
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
To create this session...
Using Science Notebooks in
Elementary Classrooms
by Michael P. Klentschy
Arlington, VA: NSTA Press,
2008.
Excerpts available at
http://static.nsta.org/files/PB209Xweb.pdf
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Why use notebooks in science?
“Instead of merely writing about science, students
need to engage in writing to learn science.”
— Owens, C. V. (2001). Teachers’ responses to science writing.
Teaching and Learning: the Journal of Natural Inquiry. Summer: 22–35.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Why use notebooks in science?
Many teachers use writing in science as a recording tool or to
find out what students have learned. However, writing in
science can also enable students to
•  draw on prior knowledge to prepare for new activities;
•  foster new learning;
•  consolidate and review ideas; and
•  reformulate and extend knowledge.
— Langer, J. A., & Applebee, A .N. (1987). How writing shapes thinking:
A study of teaching and learning. NCTE Research Report No. 22.
Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
Available at http://wac.colostate.edu/books/langer_applebee/langer_applebee.pdf
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
What do we know about writing in science?
Writing in science enhances learning by giving students
opportunities to
•  Learn ways to collect and organize information and apply
and test new ideas;
•  Develop metacognitive strategies, including the ability to
predict outcomes, explain one’s thinking, note successes
and failures, and plan ahead;
•  Express their current ideas about science content in a form
that they can examine and think about; and
•  Reflect on their learning and develop a deeper conceptual
understanding of content.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
We MUST keep in mind...
•  Writing is developmental.
•  Writing in science is specialized.
•  The nature of students’ writing in science will reflect their
experiences and understanding of science concepts and
phenomena.
•  Used well, science notebooks can become embedded in
the curriculum, serving as a direct measure of student
understanding of the content and an important means of
formative assessment.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
What should we ask students to write about in science?
The student science notebook is more than a record
of data that students collect, facts they learn, and
procedures they conduct.
It is also a record of students’ reflections, questions,
predictions, claims linked to evidence, and
conclusions, all structured by an investigation leading
to an understanding of “big ideas” in science.
— Klentschy, M. P. (2008). Using science notebooks in
elementary classrooms. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press, pages 7–8.
Excerpts available at http://static.nsta.org/files/PB209Xweb.pdf
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
What strategies will help students be successful?
Essential components of a science notebook
•  Question, Problem, Purpose
•  Prediction
•  Developing a Plan
•  Observations, Data, Charts, Graphs, and Drawings
•  Claims and Evidence
•  Drawing Conclusions
•  Reflection — Next Steps and New Questions
— Klentschy, M. P. (2008). Using science notebooks in
elementary classrooms. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press, pages 11–14.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
What is applicable for my students?
(a) Introduction.
(3) The study of elementary science includes planning and
safely implementing classroom and outdoor investigations
using scientific processes, including inquiry methods,
analyzing information, making informed decisions, and using
tools to collect and record information, while addressing the
major concepts and vocabulary, in the context of physical,
earth, and life sciences. Districts are encouraged to facilitate
classroom and outdoor investigations for at least ____% of
instructional time.
•  Grades K–1 – 80%
•  Grades 2–3 – 60%
•  Grades 4–5 – 50%
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
What strategies will help students be successful?
Essential components of a science notebook
•  Question, Problem, Purpose
•  Prediction
•  Developing a Plan
•  Observations, Data, Charts, Graphs, and Drawings
•  Claims and Evidence
•  Drawing Conclusions
•  Reflection — Next Steps and New Questions
— Klentschy, M. P. (2008). Using science notebooks in
elementary classrooms. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press, pages 11–14.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Question, Problem, Purpose
When writing the question, the problem being investigated,
or the purpose of the investigation, it must be
•  student-generated;
•  written in the student’s own words;
•  clear and concise;
•  able to be investigated; and
•  related to the objective or standard being investigated.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Question, Problem, Purpose
The formulation of questions that can be investigated is
based on the cognitive development level of students.
•  Kindergarten students — what, when, and how questions
•  Students in grades 1–2 — can convert questions of
wondering into investigable questions
•  Students in grades 3–6 — can formulate simple and
complex investigable questions
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Question, Problem, Purpose — Strategies
•  Begin with a question from the adopted science program, then
shift to student-generated questions as students become more
familiar with investigative science.
•  To guide students’ thinking as they generate focus questions,
use questions and question-starting prompts, such as
- 
- 
- 
- 
- 
What do we want to find out?
What problem are we addressing?
What information do we expect to obtain?
What would happen if _________?
How can we _______?
•  Use scenarios to help students write focus questions that will
lead them to solve a problem.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Prediction
For this component, students predict an answer that
•  relates to the question formulated,
•  is clear and reasonable,
•  gives an explanation or a reason, and
•  connects to their prior experience.
Keep in mind that a prediction is NOT a hypothesis
•  A hypothesis is a statement based on an analysis of data
or events that have occurred in the past.
•  A prediction is a statement about something that will occur
in the future.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Types of Investigations
K-1
2-4
5
Simple
Descriptive
Descriptive
Simple
Experimental
Descriptive investigations involve collecting qualitative and/or quantitative data to
draw conclusions about a natural or man-made system (e.g., rock formation,
animal behavior, cloud, bicycle, electrical circuit). A descriptive investigation
includes a question, but no hypothesis. Observations are recorded, but no
comparisons are made and no variables are manipulated.
Experimental investigations involve designing a “fair test”* similar to a
comparative investigation, but with a control identified. The variables are measured
in an effort to gather evidence to support or not support a causal relationship.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Prediction — Strategies
•  Students can draw a diagram, picture, or illustration of what
they think will happen, along with a brief written
explanation.
•  Use a prompt or sentence starter to help students with the
written explanation:
-  I think ________ will happen because...
-  If _______ then _______ because....
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan
This component relates to students detailing a course of
action to obtain data from the investigation.
Developing a Plan usually happens in two stages:
1.  General planning
•  Variables and controls are identified
2.  Operational planning
•  A clear sequence and direction is outlined
•  List of materials is determined
•  A method for data collection is developed
Keep in mind that the plan should be written so that it could
be followed and the results replicated.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan — Strategies for general planning
What are we trying to find out?
Planning Step
General Plan
1.  What should be changed?
2.  What should be kept the same?
3.  How will differences be observed
or measured?
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan — Strategies for general planning
How does the amount of fertilizer affect plant growth?
Planning Step
General Plan
1.  What should be changed?
The amount of fertilizer in each set of
plants.
2.  What should be kept the same?
The amount of water.
The amount of light.
The amount of soil.
The type of soil.
The same temperature.
3.  How will differences be observed
or measured?
The height of each plant.
The number of leaves on each plant.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan — Strategies for operational planning
How does the amount of fertilizer affect plant growth?
Planning Step
General Plan
Operational Plan
(Steps to Follow)
1.  What should be
changed?
The amount of fertilizer
in each set of plants.
Add 1, 3, 5 drops of fertilizer to three
different sets of plants.
Label the sets of plants.
2.  What should be
kept the same?
The amount of water.
The amount of light.
The amount of soil.
The type of soil.
The same temperature.
Measure and give equal amounts of
water to each set of plants.
Use a thermometer to measure
temperature.
Use equal amounts of light from the
light stand.
Use equal amounts of the same type of
soil.
3.  How will differences The height of each
be observed or
plant.
measured?
The number of leaves
on each plant.
Measure height of each plant each day
and record data.
Count the number of leaves on each
plant and record the data.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan — Strategies for operational planning
The data organizer may be one of the most difficult aspects of
the plan for the students to create.
•  Use a question to direct students back to the operational
plan:
-  How will you collect your data?
-  What will you use to collect your data?
•  This leads students to
-  re-examine what they are going to observe or measure, and
-  think about how their data will be recorded.
Keep in mind — not all investigations call for formal data
organizers — sometimes drawings and narratives tell the story!
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Developing a Plan — Strategies for operational planning
How does the amount of fertilizer affect plant growth?
Plant height in centimeters
Amount of
fertilizer
Day
1
5
10
15
20
1 drop
# of leaves
3 drops
5 drops
Amount of
fertilizer
Day
1
5
10
15
20
1 drop
3 drops
5 drops
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Observations, Data, Charts, Graphs, and Drawings
•  When making observations, students use all of their
senses as they conduct their investigation in order to
- 
- 
- 
- 
collect data (their evidence),
make drawings and illustrations,
make charts and graphs from their data, and
comment on what they have observed.
•  These observations are then used to examine and analyze
patterns and relationships.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Observations, Data, Charts, Graphs, and Drawings — Strategies
•  Students can begin making simple observations on large sheets
of blank paper to draw—and comment on—their observations.
•  Allow students to glue an example of their observation into their
science notebooks.
•  Provide sufficient time for students to make observations.
•  ALWAYS follow observations with class discussions, and use
strategic questions to guide those discussions.
•  Provide feedback that is specific and that causes students to
think more deeply about their observations and reasoning.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Claims and Evidence
In this component, students use the data they have collected
during their investigation to make sense of or meaning from
the investigation by...
•  Making one or more claims, and
•  Supporting each claim with evidence from the
investigation.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Claims and Evidence — Strategies
One of the major goals for elementary science is for students
to learn how to make evidence-based explanations regarding
their investigations.
Using an explanation framework can
•  help students develop the ability to write evidence-based
explanations; and
•  divide the task into manageable components.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Claims and Evidence — Strategies
Claims
Evidence
Statement that answers
the original question.
Data, observations, and
information that support
the claim.
I claim that...
or
I know that...
I claim this because...
or
I know this because...
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Drawing Conclusions
Drawing conclusions is an important part of an explanation
framework of clams, evidence, and conclusions.
In drawing conclusions, students
•  Look for and use patterns in the evidence connected to a
claim;
•  Use the patterns in the evidence to explain how the
evidence supports the the claim.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Drawing Conclusions — Strategies
Although this is not an easy step, it is a necessary one for
students to develop this skill. Teachers can help students in
drawing conclusions by using:
•  Sentence starters
-  I know _______ (claim) because _______ (justification).
-  My evidence supports my claim because ________.
•  Classroom discussions
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Reflection — Next Steps and New Questions
After students complete an investigation, they will naturally
have new questions. Teachers should consider providing
students the opportunity to
•  reflect on what they learned; and
•  extend the investigation with a new application of the
original question.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Reflection — Next Steps and New Questions — Strategies
Provide sentence starters to help students reflect on their
learning and frame new questions.
•  I learned...
•  I thought ______ because...
•  Now I know _______ because...
•  This investigation makes me think about...
•  I wonder what would happen if...
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Should all students be expected to write in science?
All students can be involved in writing in science.
•  Primary students’ writing can include pictures and invented
spelling.
•  Generating questions or predictions, recording
observations, connecting claims and evidence, and drawing
conclusions can be done as a class or in small groups.
•  Students (and teachers) learn to master complex processes
by doing.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
How can I support student writing in science?
Teachers should:
•  Ask students to write in science every day;
•  Expect all students to be successful writers in science;
•  Provide writing tasks that go beyond recording and
summarizing;
•  Include writing prompts that help students structure their
writing;
•  Respond to writing with direct feedback about the science
ideas.
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Using Science Notebooks to Develop Literacy Skills
Contact Information
Tracey Ramirez
Professional Learning Facilitator, K–5 Science
Charles A. Dana Center
[email protected]
For information on the Dana Center’s other professional
development opportunities, see
www.utdanacenter.org/pd
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