Vol. 6, No. 6

(Part 4) Read More: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Using Journals as an Assessment Tool
Previous tips have focused on using journals with students to practice, hone, and deepen their critical thinking skills. By planning consistent and meaningful recording opportunities, you can enhance students’ learning through firsthand inquiry. And once you have students keeping records of their findings, questions and ideas on a regular basis, you have a tool to evaluate their individual progress:

• Discover how well students have grasped specific concepts.
• Assess their ability to record observations, use pertinent vocabulary, generate questions, and other key skills and concepts. • Use the evidence at your fingertips to evaluate their progress over time, to provide helpful feedback and to inform your teaching.
• Focus your comments on positive aspects of the students’ work to encourage further investigation and help them feel proud of their efforts.

What are your top journal-keeping tips? Please share your ideas, experiences, examples of student work, or anything else with FHL’s community of learners. Email us at If we publish your submission in an upcoming enewsletter or online at the FHL website, we will send you a free class set of FHL Field Journals or Young Observer’s Notebooks!

Learning to Record – Recording to Learn
Would you be interested in more opportunities for using formatted journals with children? First Hand Learning is considering the development of subject-specific journals that would focus children’s observations on exploring specific places (the zoo, the art gallery), on technology (electricity, hand tools), or on examining aspects of their own life (autobiography, family history). Would subject-specific journals be of use with your students? What would you like to see developed? Take this opportunity to influence the development process:
• Email your thoughts and reactions to: .
• Provide us with your mailing address and we will send you a draft version of one of these new journals for you to review and critique. We appreciate the feedback. Thank you!

The First Hand Learning Catalog offers nature journals, hands-on science kits, posters, and more. Go to

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