After some workshops I presented earlier this week, I had some “aha” moments based on questions teachers asked. This post is about how notebook mini-lessons work in my classroom.
When planning a unit…
1. Identify goals.
2. Decide how to teach new content using the science notebook.
3. Decide how to deepen students’ understanding through stations.
4. Decide how students can test hypotheses about new knowledge.
This can honestly be VERY difficult given the time constraints, state testing, and students not coming in with the grade level knowledge needed. However, this is a good way for me to approach a unit (based on Marzano).
At the center of all instruction is our science notebooks. We record EVERYTHING in science notebooks. We reflect in our notebooks. We revisit our notebooks.
For Step #2, decide how to teach new content using the science notebook, I tend to use mini-lessons.
Input for a lesson is brief (about 20 minutes). It could be a mini-lab, PowerPoint, fold-up, video and response, vocabulary activity, diagram, short passage, model, sort, graphic organizer, cut and paste, or question.
Students need to communicate with each other in a structured way about what they are learning. We mainly use reciprocal teaching and questioning.
For every mini-lesson, students do 10 minutes of output. I set the timer and walk around to conference with students and check for understanding. I explicitly teach output strategies at the beginning of the year. After that, students do an “I Learned” page after each lesson. They usually do a diagram, picture, and quick write. They can also do concept maps, personal connections, compare and contrast, comic, or acrostic, or respond to a prompt. Get your Free Guide to ISN Output.