Tag Archives: Formative Assessments

Interactive STEM Notebooks: Assessment

After each investigation, I used to collect my students’ STEM notebooks after an inquiry or unit and assess them with a rubric.  I would grade certain pages/assignments and spot-check the remainder.  Even by using this system, it took forever for me to grade them.  When I’d pass them back to students, they would flip to the rubric page, look at the grade and move on with their day…after I spent so much time grading them!

So, I soon moved to a new method.  I handed out a variation of my general rubric and asked students to glue it inside the back cover of their notebooks for their reference.  Then, I passed out an assessment page, to be glued into the next empty page of the notebook.  On that page, I listed which assignments would be graded and asked students to assess their work before giving it to me to grade. This helped students to not only understand the time it takes to thoughtfully assess student notebooks,but gave them a part in the assessment process as well.



Interactive STEM Notebooks: Science and Engineering Debrief

As with any STEM project, having a way for students to debrief or reflect is important.  Research shows that by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on what they have learned, enhances meaning, encourages insight and provides a platform for more complex thinking and learning.Although I like and use the debrief pages in the above link, sometimes a lesson just requires a little bit of a different angle.   As a result, I’ve created a new set of debrief and reflection pages that are  aligned to the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.  Teachers can choose to have students use them all at the end of the inquiry or throughout the inquiry for more complete learning during the inquiry.

4 Super Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Interactive STEM Notebooks: Foldables

I’ve posted about foldables before because I think they are a really creative way for students to further their understanding through STEM Notebooks.  Most foldables are pretty general, lending themselves to almost any application (and other subjects as well).

Here are my favorites:
Engineering Design Process foldable- The EDP foldable allows students to chart their progress and record their steps as they seek solutions.

Three-Flap foldable- I like this one because it can serve many purposes.  Students can use this foldable for vocabulary words, linear processes, lists, etc.

Triangle Foldable- This one is also pretty general, but I like to use them for Claim, Evidence, Reasoning.  They are also helpful when students are comparing different designs or writing main ideas and supporting details.

Spinner Foldable- This foldable is good for concepts that lend themselves to cycles or processes

Get All 4 Foldables Interactive STEM Notebook Pages!



Interactive STEM Notebooks: The Nature of Science and Engineering

One of the first content pages in my Interactive STEM Notebooks is regarding the nature of science and engineering.  I like for students to ponder what science is (and isn’t)  and what engineering is (and isn’t) so that they can use this information to form a working definition of Science and Engineering.

Students have all kinds of conceptions of what science and engineering are.  By letting them discuss these ideas with their partner and then with the class, I find that they gain a better understanding. As the year goes on, students are invited to modify and add to their definitions, showing both growth and mastery.

Get the Nature of Science and the Nature of Engineering Interactive STEM Notebook Pages!


4 Super Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Interactive STEM Notebook: Table of Contents

Another element that I like to include in Interactive STEM Notebooks is a glossary.  I like them to become personal glossaries, but I model the process as a whole class during the first quarter so that students understand the expectation.  First, students glue the sheets in the back of the notebook, starting with the last page and working forward.  I start using four pages (2 full sheets per student)  After that, students are on their own to collect words that are new to them or have special meaning.  Blank sheets are made accessible so that students can glue in new ones as needed.

To keep everyone on track, I do suggest that perhaps *this* word might be an interesting one to write in our personal glossaries.  In order to make sure that students write down the correct definition, they have “approved” sources from which they can get the definition.  That way, students aren’t guessing at the meaning of a new word.

When I grade the Interactive Science Notebooks, there is a spot on the rubric to assess their attention to their personal glossaries. (Stay tuned for the rubric!)

Get the Glossary and Table of Contents Interactive STEM Notebook Pages!



Interactive STEM Notebooks: Safety Contracts

After talking about Notebook Expectations, I like to talk about safety.  In my classroom, it was highly unlikely that we would use anything that wouldn’t be used in your kitchen, but it’s still a best practice to have this discussion with students.  My main point is making sure that students are respectful of themselves, others and our classroom equipment.

To show them how serious I am, I usually have each student sign a safety contract that we then glue into our STEM Notebooks.  Having students put their signature on something impresses the importance and make it easier to enforce if students start to get lax as the year goes on.

Get the Safety Contract and Notebook Expectations Interactive STEM Notebook Pages!



Interactive STEM Notebooks: Notebook Expectations

As we continue on our path of STEM Notebook domination, our next step is to talk to students about expectations for the Interactive Notebook.  I like to open this up to a discussion with students and let them suggest the “rules” that they should follow when working in their Notebooks.Students will usually come up with most of the expectations after a small discussion.  Or, to speed things along, the teacher can simply review the list and have students neatly glue it into their notebooks.Since this is one of the first pages students glue in, I also like to revisit the discussion about glue (often).  I personally prefer to use the white glue sticks because I think they are easier for students and don’t wrinkle the pages like using too much regular glue does .  If you prefer (or have easier access to) regular glue, I love glue caps like these to help students use appropriate amount of glue. (Please note this is not an affiliate  link.) Once students understand the expectations for their Notebooks (and using the glue!), it makes the remainder your Science classes progress smoothly!


Interactive STEM Notebooks: Engineering Design Process

Along with using Interactive STEM Notebooks in your classroom comes a thought process to accompany it.  In the case of STEM, it is the Engineering Design Process.The Engineering Design Process, often confused with the Scientific Method, is a dedicated process that details how most engineering problems are solved.  I like students to keep multiple copies in their Interactive STEM Notebooks.  The first one lives in the front of the notebook (I like to put this one inside the front cover) and is just a graphic that details the steps of the process.  The others are  interactive foldables that live throughout the notebook and are used as we progress through each unit or project.  Using these help students to better focus their ideas, but continue to refine and redesign their solution.


Interactive STEM Notebooks- Table of Contents and Glossary

When setting up the Interactive STEM Notebooks, organization is key.  The first component that should be put into the notebook is a Table of Contents.  This component will help keep the notebook organized by requiring students to record the title of each page on the Table of Contents.  It also requires students to both number and title each individual page.  This gets students in the habit of thinking about what they are doing- i.e. they have to think carefully about what to title each page and keep everything in order.

Some teachers have students keep a hand-written list as a Table of Contents (and for middle school or high school students, this is probably fine).  Since I taught mostly grades 4 and 5, I prefer to use a template so that all entries are in the same places for each notebook.  I have students glue the template into the first two pages of the notebook.  I know that many teachers prefer to use the liquid white glue,

Get the Table of Contents and Glossary Interactive STEM Notebook Pages!


Interactive STEM Notebooks: Letter to Parents

When I begin using STEM Interactive Notebooks, I usually send a note home to parents.  I read the note with students so that I can share with parents why STEM Notebooks are important (wink).  Having that conversation with students allows me to be very direct about my expectations for their notebooks and explains why I take them so seriously.  Below are the basic points that we discuss:
A STEM Notebook is:
  • a personal gathering of ideas and thoughts about our investigations
  • a place to gather, organize and display data like charts and graphs
  • a resource for present and future information
  • an evolving artifact that shows learning and growth
  • a tool to use for reviewing information for tests and quizzes
  • a representation of your personal growth in science/STEM

When I was in the classroom, I asked that parents signed the note to show that their child had reviewed it with them- A great way to involve parents and further impress the importance of the notebooks with students.

Get the Interactive STEM Notebook Parent Letter and Engineering Design Process Pages!



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