Using Interactive Student Notebooks In K-12 Science Classrooms

By on September 5, 2010 in Hands-On Science Explorations by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

The movement to teach science in the K-12 classroom via an inquiry-based approach of science concepts is evident. If you were to visit a number of K-12 classrooms throughout the nation you would observe students actively engaged in the learning process. Teaching science via an inquiry-based approach has gained support through extenive research that has shown that students being taught in effective inquiry-based learning environments improve skills and exhibit more positive attitudes toward science. With teachers growing more confident in teaching science via an inquiry-based approach, students are taking a more active┬árole in the learning process. In inquiry-based instruction students are encouraged to communicate their understanding of science concepts via oral discussions and writing experiences thus, many teachers that teach science via an inquiry-based approach incorporate the use of interactive student notebooks in their classrooms. So how is an interactive student notebook different from the science notebooks of the past? An interactive student notebook as it name implies allows the student to take a more active role in what is recorded and placed in their science notebook. There is a great deal more of student creativity and flexibility in interactive student notebooks. The design and format of the interactive student notebook varies with teacher, grade level, and science discipline. However, the basic format of the “traditional” interactive student notebook sets aside the right page for teacher directions and input, and the left page for student input. The right side (teacher) page of the notebook may contain teacher lecture notes, lab directions, teacher prepared handouts, etc.. The left side (student) page is where the student may write down their reflections of lectures, homework, student designed Venn diagrams and concepts maps, draws pictures of what they observed during a laboratory experience whether it be during a nature hike around the school yard, or a specimen they observed under a microscope. Additionally, students are encouraged to attach three-dimensional objects on the left side as well. There are many variations of interactive student notebooks and it’s up to the individual teacher as to what format they choose to incorporate within their own classroom. During all of Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski’s teacher training and professional staff development workshops she encourages teachers to practice using interactive student notebooks during the teacher training session. Teachers are either given a notebook to use or bring their own during the teacher training session. Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski has observed that if teachers are given the opportunity to use an interactive student notebook during the teacher training experience that they are more likely to implement interactive student notebooks within their own classrooms. As the teachers construct their own interactive student notebooks during the teacher training sessions they realize the positive impacts that interactive student notebooks can have in the K-12 science classroom. By the end of the teacher training sessions teachers are truly excited about implementing the use interactive student notebooks in their classrooms. The following photos represent a sampling of notebooks from teachers who have attended Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski’s teacher training workshops.

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher TrainingInteractive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-GrabowskiInteractive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-GrabowskiInteractive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-GrabowskiInteractive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

Interactive Student Notebook Teacher Training by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

For teacher references on using science notebooks in the K-12 classroom, Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski recommends the following books. All books listed below can be purchased from Amazon via this website at no extra charge.