Open Letter to Educators

Thank you for your interest.

Can we interest you in trying two of our inquiry-based products: The Firsthand Learning Field Journal and The Young Observers Notebook? These are publications designed for gathering student questions and using those questions to stimulate student engagement in class discussions. There is much talk among teachers these days about the power of inquiry-based instruction. This usually means organizing instruction around teacher-generated essential questions. While this is a fine strategy for achieving relevance, we propose to take inquiry-based teaching one step further by creating a tool for capturing individual student questions. KWL charts accomplish this but usually KWL is a strategy for determining what the class wants to know. Our inquiry-focused journals are designed to capture what each individual student wants to know.

The Firsthand Learning Field Journal (Grades 4-6) and The Young Observers Notebook (Grades K-3) are teaching tools that are designed to invite students to develop their own observations and questions, and to provide teachers with an evolving record of this student-driven learning. Useful in both science and social-studies classrooms, these journals document each students engagement with the topic of study. Students are invited to draw what they have observed and experienced, to write about their observations, and to record the questions that their observations have raised. Allowing time for student reflection, and recording those reflections in a journal, gives teachers a crucial source of data for future lesson planning. It also reveals specific information about the progression of individual student learning during a particular course of study.

Our journals have been used with success in both formal and informal learning environments across the country. If you would like to try out these journals with a small group of students, we will happily send you up to five journals for the cost of shipping alone. We believe, if you try them with students, you will find them so useful that you will want to buy them by the case as many other users have.

David Hartney

Please request sample journals by emailing me directly

Ordering and customization information.

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Click here to view the Journal Keeping page.

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