Scientific Journals: A Creative Assessment Toolby: Larissa Beckstead

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The typical use of science notebooks is for students to record information as they complete an investigation, writing down their procedure, observations, data, results, graphs, and any other factual information pertaining to their experiment. The author did the same, but also incorporated specific writing assignments to prepare students to publish “articles” about their science investigations in a class science journal. During the school year, they published eight science journals, all based on investigations or special projects the students completed. In this article, the author describes how she integrated language arts and science throughout the school year.

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Reviews (11)
  • on Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:48 PM

I found this article very interesting and a good way to incorporate other subject areas into the science curriculum we are using. I never thought about using a scientific journal as a way to form and assessment but I think this is a great idea. I know this was written about a 3rd grade level but I feel like I could incorporate it into a younger grade level by altering the expectations. This article talked about using essay’s, poetry, and letters in the students science journal and for the older grades I think this is a great tool to use for many reasons. It helps the students work on their different styles of writing, allows for them to get down on paper what they just discussed or researched, and this can also be used as a tool for teachers to determine any gaps the students still have in their learning. This helps us to know what the students have learned, what concepts they are still struggling with, and allows us as teachers to be able to go back and fix those gaps. I think I could even do this in the younger grades with allowing them to maybe draw pictures and use a word wall to “write” what they learned. I feel like it would be simpler with the younger grades because they would not be writing a whole lot but seeing if they can explain what they have drawn we can still get the concepts they have grasped or the ones they are struggling with. This is also a good way to work on students writing and see where they need help and where their strengths are. I feel like this is a good assessment tool to take back into my future classroom and use not just with science curriculum but with any subject area as well.

Heather Troy  (Owasso, OK)
Heather Troy (Owasso, OK)

  • on Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:41 AM

I found this article to be so inspiring! I can see my students getting excited about being "authors" and having their writing "matter" and possibly be published as a collection at the end of the year. I know as a preservice teacher that there are many ideas out there, but this is one I will definitely incorporate into my plan.

Tammy Jo Magruder
Tammy Jo Magruder

  • on Sat Nov 12, 2016 4:36 PM

Most teachers would agree that there is not enough time to accomplish everything that is required in a day. Larissa Beckstead has a solution. She combines scientific conceptual learning with proper written communication. She begins by teaching her students proper essay techniques and then moves on to writing scientific essays for a class journal. She also explains how to use a friendly letter to assess the students' knowledge of scientific content. Additionally, she uses poetry to explore the world of science through the student observations. The science notebook was key in all the writing tasks. She was able to assess the students and inspire a love of science. These are tips that I can certainly put into practice with my own third grade scientists!

Cara Cook
Cara Cook

  • on Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:59 AM

This article shows many excellent way for teachers to incorporate many aspects of language arts into a lesson. Connecting science and language arts is a great idea, and encouraging students to show their understanding through creative writing is much more meaningful than just a typical assessment such as an exam or test. I enjoyed reading about how students constructed their own poems, or wrote letters to scientists. This helps students to find a meaningful connection with the topics being discussed, and I can't wait to include these kinds of activities within my future science classroom.


  • on Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:42 PM

I really liked this article because I thought the teacher did a great job of integrating science and language arts. In this class, the students would write their own science journal articles in their science notebooks. Oftentimes in the younger elementary grades, teachers tend to leave science completely out of the curriculum, or only touch on it briefly throughout the year. I thought the students’ science notebooks were a great tool for assessment, but also because it was something they were proud of, and could show their previous teachers and parents. I think this is an easy and effective method that many teachers could implement in their classrooms. The teacher provided the students with an outline and a rubric to follow to help them get started with writing their own scientific journals. This made it easy for the teacher to read through their work and see which students understood the content and which ones did not. I also like this method because it can work for a multitude of lessons and is easily adaptable. I would love to use this method in my future classroom.

Katelyn Casillas
Katelyn Casillas

  • on Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:23 PM

I love the idea of a creative assessment tool. Scientific journals are a great way for students to reflect on their understanding of an activity. The author describes that her class science journal are composed of articles that the students have written about their science investigations; using the actual data they collected in their studies. Students write articles, stories, and poems about the science concepts they have learned. This is a great idea for how to incorporate science and literacy into the elementary classroom.

Cierra  (Wellston, OK)
Cierra (Wellston, OK)

  • on Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:56 PM

I think that this article was extremely insightful when it came to explaining how to set up science journals within the classroom. I like how the author gave many specific examples of how she uses the science journals within her classroom as well as what unit she usually starts them on. I think that science journals are an excellent tool and find them helpful even now being a college student. I want to be able to take this article's information and incorporate it into my future classroom someday. The way the author explained setting up science journals and how to use them makes me want to follow her lead someday in my own classroom.

Alexandria Adams  (Edmond, OK)
Alexandria Adams (Edmond, OK)

  • on Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:29 PM

As a pre-service elementary teacher about to begin her student teaching, this article makes me so excited to have a classroom of my own to try this out on. This article seamlessly integrates language arts and science by having students write science journal articles for their class journal. I really love this idea because in many lower elementary classrooms, science instruction is put on the back-burner due to the emphasis of math and language arts. It is my hope that this assessment tool will allow more science instruction at the lower levels because of the integration. Students are able to express their scientific knowledge in a variety of creative writing outlets. I think that this will help engage more learners because it reaches students who are really interested in writing and hesitant about science as well as those really interested in science and hesitant about writing. Overall, I think that this is an innovative and creative assessment strategy that could be adapted for use at any grade level.

Amber LaFerriere
Amber LaFerriere

  • on Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:56 PM

When it comes to assessing students in science, it will be slightly different than other subjects. The author touches on the fact that proper grammar and science terminology must be taught before any assignment is given. This is absolutely true because a student cannot be expected to do a full science report without having enough science background. This is especially true for young students. As students get older, they will have a little more science background knowledge but young students do not. In addition to this, the author touches on having enough material. This means that the teacher cannot expect the students to write essays without enough evidence and information. Making sure that the students have enough material to write about will make it much more easier and enjoyable for the students to complete their project/report. My favorite thing about the author was that assessment can come in many forms as opposed to just an end of the chapter test. You can have your students write a letter, poem, essay with picture etc. The forms of assessment should be switched up seeing as every students learn differently they also must be assessed differently.

Maria Avella
Maria Avella

  • on Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:50 PM

Beckstead tells about how her class of third-graders uses their scientific notebooks to record observations and their scientific thinking but then takes it to the next level of publishing a "journal" of writing about science. Students write articles, stories, and poems about the science concepts they have learned. This is a great idea for how to incorporate science and literacy into the elementary classroom. She emphasizes the need for proper preparation (not just telling kids to write, but teaching them HOW to write), support, fun, and learning.

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

  • on Fri May 20, 2011 9:01 AM

What a great way to integrate science with language arts! The author uses writing to help her assess her students’ understanding of science concepts. The author describes her class science journal composed of articles that the students have written about their science investigations, using the actual data they collected in their science journals. Although the author scaffolds the writing assignments, and after students have learned writing and grammar skills, they apply their science concepts to articles, letter-writing and writing poetry.

Kathy Sparrow  (Delray Beach, FL)
Kathy Sparrow (Delray Beach, FL)

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