Are you a planet scout?
It's best practice to incorporate literacy in science and using Tradebooks is one strategy. I use the book Teaching Science through Trade Books by Royce, Morgan, and Ansberry and incorporate many of the suggested texts. Students practice Common Core ELA standards such as: determining central ideas and developing content vocabulary.
This lesson uses the book "Salamander Rain, A Lake & Pond Journal," by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini. I highly recommend it. It is inexpensive and the illustrations are superb. If you have the time, share with your students that the author began writing (and being published) when she was 14 and wrote (as a homework assignment) A Walk in the Rainforest.
To introduce the book "Salamander Rain" I ask, “Have you ever kept a journal? What kinds of things would you write in a lake & pond journal?” Some appropriate student answers include: I write stories, I write things I did during the day, I write about experiences I have had, I draw pictures, I write poems.
Then I read aloud the “Official Planet Scout Journal” excerpt (page 3) which introduces students to Klint, the character in the book. This excerpt discusses the purpose of his journal, which is to gather information about lakes and ponds and to become an expert on these wetland habitats. I continue reading aloud several more pages from the journal, highlighting examples of good journal writing.
I ask students, "What are the features that Klint has included in his journal?" Some responses include: observations, measurements, & drawings of wetland animals, articles, and interesting facts. Students make the connection that like Klint, scientists use journals or notebooks regularly to record observations, questions, and ideas.
Teacher Tip: You can also provide students with samples from real scientists’ field notebooks to read, like those on pages 49-51 in the book.
I have students bring their journal (notebook) to the pond and I give them quiet time (5-8 minutes) to explore and make initial observations about the plants & wildlife they see. I want students to take pictures of the pond and their experience so I ask them to bring a camera or device to take pictures. Students will use their pictures in their final project.
What are the elements of a good journal entry?
After reading an excerpt from the book "Salamander Rain," students should have better understanding of the elements that make a good journal entry.
I ask, "After reading parts of the book today, what are the elements of a good journal entry?"
Student responses include: writing data like weather conditions, recording the air and water temperature, listing observations that you hear and smell, and making drawings of the pond area. Students also record narratives of their experience in the field.
I review student responses, with the context of what makes a good journal entry, in this video.