To Monarch Migration Journals: Fall | Winter |Spring
Teaching Suggestions
Journal Pages for Exploring Photo of the Week

Observation: The Cornerstone of Scientific Inquiry
Each week Journey North migration updates feature a Photo of the Week. Build students’ scientific observation and thinking skills with the following Journal Pages.

Journal Page: Scientific Observation Skills
Describe, Wonder, Hypothesize! As students examine a photo, challenge them to think and act like scientists, describing details, writing wonder questions, and posing hypotheses. The more time and opportunities students have to carefully observe photos, the more detailed their observations will be. Build strong communication skills by providing time to share descriptions, wonderings, and hypotheses.

Questions to Inspire Close Observation
Use this list of Guiding Questions to Inspire Close Observation to help your students examine the Photo of the Week. Encourage them to observe details, make comparisons, interpret what they see, and consider new information.

The Teacher's Role in an Inquiry-based Classroom
Remember the teacher’s role in an inquiry-based classroom:

  • Model keen observation skills by thinking aloud and recording what you see and wonder as you study a photo.
  • Be a co-explorer who cultivates curiosity by generating and exploring intriguing questions.
  • Inspire students to observe closely by noticing details in a photo.
  • Challenge students to ask their own questions.

Journal Page


Guiding Questions


Share the Wonder

Invite students to look carefully at a photo and fill each thought-balloon on this handout with their wonderings: thoughts, feelings, questions, and hypotheses. Encourage them to share their ideas in small groups or with the whole class.

Journal Page
Share the Wonder

Building Communication and Descriptive Writing Skills

Help students collect words and phrases they’ll need to communicate their scientific thinking. Use the “A Writer’s Quest for Details” chart to help students use a variety of writing strategies to “find the words” that describe the details they observe in the Photo of the Week. Invite them to use the collected words and phrases to write possible captions for the photo.


Journal Page
Writer's Quest

for Teacher Reference

Draw from the Collection of Observation Handouts

You can use this collection of observation handouts for many purposes. Print and pass out copies to guide observations of Journey North photos, video clips and the natural world.

Assess Student Observations

You can use the list of Questions to Inspire Close Observation and any of the observation handouts above to assess your students' thinking and growth. Ask yourself these types of questions as you review their responses:

  • Are students’ responses increasingly detailed?
  • Can students increasingly distinguish between observations and inferences?
  • Do they increasingly use visual evidence (along with past knowledge) to support their explanations?