Most of us have been there. You ask students to get our their notebooks so that you can start today’s lesson. Some kids have it together, some kids don’t and no one is literally on the same page. Enter STEM Notebooks.
STEM Notebooks help students in more ways than finding a page to take notes. By using them correctly and making them a focus of your class, they can help students become better learners. So what skills do the notebooks actually teach?
Keeping Students Organized
From the front cover and dividers to the content pages themselves, kids need to be taught where to put things and how to organize. By using a guided approach even younger students can be successful. Use templates that will help students save time and/or don’t contribute to their learning like a Project Debrief or the grid for a table or chart that you want students to complete. (Let’s face it, no one wants to waste precious time waiting for students to draw a table in their notebooks.)
Helping Students Improve Communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively in writing is a big deal in the real world and helping students corner that skill early on is a huge win for them. Whether is is writing a summary paragraph, drawing a diagram or using a graphic organizer, being able to effectively communicate is key. It could be the best solution in the world, but if a student can’t communicate it, then it’s a loss.
Providing a Helpful Study Tool
Students will always ask what’s going to be on it. If they have followed along with their STEM Notebooks, then they already know and have a pre-made study guide. For project-based classes, STEM notebook provide a comprehensive record of the work students have done and helps them have that knowledge, those strategies and their reflections at their fingertips.
Helping Students Take Ownership
Like the Three Little Pigs STEM Challenge that I do with students at the beginning of the year, notebooks will reflect the amount of effort put into them. As students begin to understand how useful they are, they tend to put more effort forward. (To make sure we’re off on the right foot at the beginning of they year, I would often give a pop quiz that required them to use the information they gathered in one of our beginning of the year STEM labs.)
Reflecting on their Learning
The biggest benefit, in my opinion, is providing a space for students to capture their reflections. Most students can draw a good diagram or construct a nice graph, but when you ask them to explain in writing what they mean, it’s a whole other ballgame. Providing students an opportunity to practice this skill repeatedly helps them determine what pieces of information are important and relevant.
Although some of the STEM Notebook component will vary due to student ages and ability, the premise remains the same. STEM Notebooks are a worthwhile tool to help students become better learners.
Not sure about the entire bundle just yet? Give the Science and Engineering Debrief a try!
Lane specializes in STEM education, curriculum design and professional development and makes teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.