Journey North Journals
Helping Young Minds Grow

Overview: This teachers' lesson offers tips on using Journey North journals to inspire learning and assessment.

Many Journey North teachers have students use journals throughout the season. When students use journals to capture and reflect on observations, experiences, and data — and put forth opinions, predictions, and theories — learning blossoms. Journals can also be great assessment tools because they offer you and your students windows into their thinking, understanding, and knowledge gaps. Finally, they can help you address pressures to integrate writing into subject areas.

These studies feature printable journal covers, pages, and tips for getting started. Click to link to each one.

Planning for Using Journals

Sample Ways to Use Journals
Long-Term Studies
Dialog Journals
Double-Entry Journals

Weekly "Learnings"
Journaling Questions
Science Inquiry Journals

How you use Journey North journals, and which type you use, will depend in part on your teaching and learning goals and on students' abilities. Here are some questions to ask yourself (and, perhaps, the students):

  • What do we want to capture in the journals? (Everything we discover about a species? Our daily observations, predictions, and explanations?) Should each one have a theme (e.g., habitat, seasonal changes, or spring monarch migration)?
  • Do we want the content be open-ended, more directed, or some of both?
  • Which of the following will we reflect on and respond to?: Journey North News Updates, Journal Questions*, our own questions and observations?
  • Will we include data and observation sheets from Journey North Lessons?
  • Will we include seasonal and migration maps for tracking changes and making comparisons?
  • How will we use the journals for assessment? What kinds of questions will help us see how we've grown?

*Journal questions from Journey North
For each migration and seasonal project, Journey North provides Journal Questions in regular News Updates and on many Activity/Lesson pages. These questions, which can also be used to spark discussions, help students build and reinforce reasoning skills and understanding by asking them to do the following:

  • try to make sense of data
  • puzzle out math, science, or mapping challenges
  • reflect on Journey North experiences
  • think creatively or make personal connections to material
  • apply their experiences and learning to new contexts

Most questions model the thinking process that scientists use, so students can begin to think and act like scientists.