Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Documenting Thinking

Spring has sprung and many classes in our school have begun to dig into different scientific inquiries.

In second grade, students are busy constructing an understanding of the big idea that survival depends on the relationship between living things and their environment. To begin, students formulate questions on the inside of their plant journals that guide their inquiry. These questions are the starting point for their own inquiries and research.

Students are required to write at least one question, but they can write more if they have more questions. They share their questions out loud to generate more questions and ideas. Then they write the questions on cards and post them on the wall. Students can continue to keep adding questions to the wall and to their lists throughout the unit.

After formulating and recording their questions, students are ready to research. Specifically, students are learning about how plants survive, the life cycle of plants, the relationship between plants and their environment and about how human actions/choices/decisions can impact the environment.

Students are encouraged to title the pages of their journals with the questions they've previously formulated and then write what they've learned with words, illustrations, diagrams, labels, and captions. Here are some examples of G2 plant journals.



To be able to give students feedback on their progress, some teachers have used this rubric. The descriptors were whited out for copyright purposes. You can fill them in with your students or buy the text the rubric came from: Differentiating Instruction with Menus, Language Arts (K-2) from Prufrock Press Inc.

Meanwhile, in first grade, students are constructing an understanding of the idea that making observations leads to discoveries. To document their thinking, G1 students are also using science notebooks.


After seeing how these G1 and G2 students use journals to document thinking as they construct understanding of timeless, abstract, universal, and transferable concepts, how could you or have you use inquiry journals/notebooks with your students?

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