Five Good Reasons to Use Science Notebooksby: Joan Gilbert and Marleen Kotelman

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Science notebooks are an everyday part of learning in the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District. K-8 schools there have begun using notebooks in conjunction with their kit-based science program. In this article an elementary school shares its journey into using science notebooks and its findings regarding their benefits.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
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Reviews (13)
  • on Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:17 AM

I have personally always been a fan of science notebooks as a student because it helped keep me organized and accountable. I have been on the fence whether or not to use it in my classroom though but this article helped me make my mind up! Science notebooks are a wonderful resource and I will definitely be using them in my classroom!


  • on Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:45 AM

I have always used science journal and can't imagine not having them! This article does a great job of highlighting the numerous ways to use them. I love the idea of identifying the specific types of writing students can use while documenting their findings. I'm going to incorporate more formal documentation in science journaling.

Christine  (Anchorage, AK)
Christine (Anchorage, AK)

  • on Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:27 AM

All 5 reasons are great reason to keep a science journal. I have not had my students keep a science journal in the past. I have had them keep writing and math journals which I find great value in having my student keep them and write in them weekly or daily.

Julie Bunker  (Monticello, UT)
Julie Bunker (Monticello, UT)

  • on Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:25 AM

This article does an excellent job of explaining the important role science notebooks can play in the classroom. It goes into detail about how writing is enhanced. A must read for science notebook beginners!

Kari N
Kari N

  • on Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:21 PM

I was happy to read this article as I personally use and feel notebooks are a reflection of my/their work. I like the idea of me able to view or read their Wonderment! I will definitely incorporate this into my classroom on a daily basis, especially since I am a special education teacher this will allow me to evaluate my students and differentiate their learning abilities. You can learn a lot through a picture for those that have a difficult time with the writing aspect of learning.

Catherine Clark  (Freehold, NJ)
Catherine Clark (Freehold, NJ)

  • on Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:00 PM

I found myself being very encouraged after reading this article. It encouraged me to work harder to find ways to bring writing into my science instruction. I especially connected with the idea that science notebooks are a thinking tool. I am very into the idea that, just like we are all reading teachers, we are also all thinking teachers. I also connected with the idea that science notebooks can drive and inform instructional choices.

Michael Massad  (Austin, TX)
Michael Massad (Austin, TX)

  • on Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:35 AM

This is a good resource for understanding why we should use science notebooks in the classroom. I am inspired to take this back to my room next year!

Rebecca Baxter
Rebecca Baxter

  • on Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:56 AM

Writing can teach us to think at several levels. If we write what we see, or write down our questions, we begin to see patterns in information and questions that lead us to understanding. The author suggest that we use notebooks: 1 - as thinking tools 2 - to guide teacher instruction 3 - to support and improve literacy skills 4 - to support differentiated learning, including a combination of written and visual text 5 - To support teacher collaboration. Comparisons within and across grade levels help students continuously build on scientific thinking and provides understanding of the process so teachers are better able to scaffold learning.

Jennifer Rahn  (Delafield, WI)
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)

  • on Wed May 18, 2011 2:19 PM

I'm a big fan of using science notebooks and found this article supplemented my already existing reasons for using them. The authors showed that notebooks are used to promote literacy and science process skills (observation, communication, etc.). But they went further as they used them as tools for differentiation and teacher collaboration. How inspiring to see this district's good work!

Wendy R  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy R (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:06 PM

As my district transitions into the NGSS and I begin to utilize the 5E approach to teaching science the notebooks will allow me to see and understand the students thinking and tell me where I would need to spend additional time with my lessons. In addition as the article stated the notebooks will also allow my students to develop their writing skills as explained in the article. The article was informative and I look forward to implementing them in my classroom.

Douglas  (Toms  RIver, NJ)
Douglas (Toms RIver, NJ)

  • on Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:02 PM

I have used notebooks for several years now and I think that this article is a good guide for beginners and also serves as a good reminder for current users of notebooks that good "notebooking" doesn't happen overnight. Students (and teachers) will benefit from lots of modeling, sharing, and practice. I would have gven 5 stars if it had more student examples, but this IS a journal and not a book. I teach English language learners, so this is a way to assist students in their literacy skills and to really check for understanding.

Corina Garcia
Corina Garcia

  • on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:43 PM

This article provides compelling evidence for the use of science notebooks to improve student thinking and reasoning as well as writing skills. It suggests several books as resources and a website that is currently (Jan 2010) out of date but still online at I wish it showed examples of student work and gave more suggestions as to how to get started (if you are working on this alone instead of as a district as they describe). Still, if you are going to adopt notebooking as a school or even a grade level this has some very useful suggestions on how to do on-going adjustments and assessments of success. The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is the lack of student work, but the website above does show copies from student notebooks that focus on the writing (Not on a complete investigation from start to finish that shows the learning progression, however).

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

  • on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:25 PM

The article talked about reasons a teacher may use notebooks to document labs. The article talked about how notebooks were good for parctice of different learning styles. The article also said that journals were good as a differentiaion strategy. Good!

LeRoy A
LeRoy A

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