We recently came across a pattern for student observations as part of the upgrading of our elementary natural science curriculum and instruction. As we began to have our students use these simple statements we quickly realized their ready application across the curriculum and, indeed, across the grades.
The statements, ‘I Notice’, ‘I Wonder’, and ‘It Reminds Me of’ have become a part of our routine in high school Humane Letters classes as much as in science classes. We've posted them in our classrooms, K-12. Students frequently use them without prompting because they are applicable across their day and they give them a framework for thinking about what they’re learning. I should point out that this isn't a new 'program' but rather a way of approaching thinking about new topics or deepening understanding of familiar ones.
These observations are foundational for other kinds of questions and observations, as well. In order to analyze and evaluate students first need to observe, ask questions, and make connections. These habits help to facilitate discussion that is not focused on student opinion but rather on student thinking. They require students to look carefully, to observe, to look for patterns, to ask questions, and to make connections.
We have been pleased, and perhaps a bit surprised, by the effectiveness and flexibility of this as a tool for thinking that goes well beyond the third grade science journal where it started.
Credit to the authors of How to Teach Nature Journaling, John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren.
The link is to an excellent 13 minute video with John Muir Laws explaining and demonstrating the process for nature journaling.