I teach in an urban school in South Knoxville. 100 percent of our students receive free breakfast and lunch as a Title 1 school. My students have gone through many ups and downs in our middle school with personnel turnover and our school's fight for resources. Many students lack the experience and support needed to do the best they can at school. They struggle with what it means to be a student and to come to school ready to learn.
When my students are truly engaged, the light goes on and their self-efficacy comes through.
My students active in labs, observing the biodiversity of our school forest and exploring the macro-invertebrates of our creek--this is when they come alive. As one of my struggling students said after exploring our school creek, "This is better than a zoo! You can touch the animals and really get in there!"
In 8th grade science students cover concepts like biodiversity and natural selection. While we can learn a lot from technology like computers and online programs, our outdoor environment provides rich, hands-on experiences that students can readily grasp. Behind our school exists a beautiful forest with trails, a local creek we test for water quality, and gardens. As students learn from these environments, they also need to record their thoughts and data. A Bare Book journal is a perfect match for this type of learning.
Our school is a Title I school, which means most students would not be able to purchase these journals.
By providing all students with the same journal, no student would be an outcast for being unable to purchase a classroom material.
Learning how to observe and record accurate data is a skill that many middle school students struggle with. Students will go outdoors at least twice a month to do ongoing research like recording the biodiversity in our area and testing the pH of our creek to determine its health. By going outside and individually reflecting on the nature around them, I believe that students will find a place to relax and release some of the frustrations they have at home and at school. Journaling can be a therapeutic release for students as well as a place to hold important scientific data.
This is my second year to request journals from ConorsChoose.org. My students and I really appreciated the journals we received last year and enjoyed using them to the fullest. Many students remarked that the best science class experience was being outdoors; often with their journal by their side.
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