The development of insightful implementation of science notebooks




Fulton, L. A., Crowther, D. T.., & Bailey, J. M..


Science notebooks are popular in many elementary science classrooms; however, their use tends to be mechanical in nature. This is not surprising, as notebook resources tend to focus on what notebooks should look like and how to get them going, rather than how to facilitate them in a manner that furthers students' learning. If notebooks are to serve as learning tools, then teachers need to understand what this means, have access to resources that help them implement it as a learning tool, and have time to develop these ideas further within their own classrooms. This qualitative multi-case study examined the beliefs and practices, related to science notebooks, of three primary teachers at varying levels of experience with notebooks. Experience was defined by the amount of time spent studying science notebooks as part of a professional study group. Data were collected in the form of interviews, video of classroom lessons, and student notebooks. Analysis included open coding of interview and lesson transcripts and content analysis of students’ notebooks. An examination of the teachers' beliefs and practices indicated that while the less experienced teacher gained insight into notebooks, she held tightly to the idea that it is a recording device, while those with more experience viewed it as a learning tool. All three teachers used varying strategies to support student use of the notebooks. These differences resulted in a higher incidence of conclusions within the notebooks of students from the classrooms of those with more experience. The results suggest that learning to use science notebooks is a process of gradual shifts in instruction in which the teacher moves from a teacher-centered approach to a student-centered approach, or from mechanical to insightful use. As part of this process, the teacher implements various supports and scaffolds to help students make sense of the scientific content and learn how to use the science notebook as a learning tool.


Fulton, L. A., Crowther, D. T., & Bailey, J. M. (2013). The development of insightful implementation of science notebooks. Presented at Meeting of National Association of Research in Science Teaching, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.