Assessment Strategies
and Tools

Assessment During Journey North Studies

Science Inquiry Journals

Many teachers have students use notebooks or journals during Journey North studies to jot observations, questions, definitions, and responses to questions. Science journals typically have a bit more structure.

Student and professional scientists use them to document observations, questions, and predictions; describe investigations and experimental procedures; record observations and data; and reflect on and try to make sense of and explain data. Here’s an approach that can help students deepen and reveal their understanding and ability to think and act like scientists.

Before an investigation: Have students draw or write what they already know about the topic or concept, list questions they have, and make predictions. They should also explain the purpose of their investigation.

During an investigation: In addition to including observations, diagrams, and data charts and tables, your young scientists should record questions and thoughts inspired by the observations and data. Next, have them write about how what they are seeing relates to their predictions.

After an investigation: Students should review their entries, organize data, and look for patterns. From this evidence, they should try to explain their results or findings and answer the following: How does it fit with my original ideas? What have I learned and how have my ideas changed? How does this tie into the real world? What new questions do I have? How did collaborating with classmates help me make sense of the study?

As you talk with students about entries during and after investigations, you will gain insight into their thinking and possible misconceptions. Use this to determine next steps in instruction and to inform your assessment.

Note: You might have students set these up as double-entry journals. Students will divide each page down the center. They'll use the left side for observations, drawings, maps, and descriptive notes. The righthand column should be reserved for questions and reflections inspired by the observations.