Introductory Lessons



Class Periods




Subject Areas

Science, Social Studies, ELA


Students should always be engaged when in the field.  Journaling is a useful tool when there is a gap in direct instruction or hands-on work and for groups that finish early.  Journaling allows students time to reflect on their experiences, make observations about their surroundings and think meta-cognitively.

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

Journal writing can include:

  • Observation
  • Inference
  • Description
  • Detail
  • Site Metadata (e.g. location, time, weather conditions)
  • Procedure (so someone else can do what you did)
  • Personal experience
  • Reflection (e.g. self to lesson, self to world, lesson to world)
  • Opinions
  • Feelings

    Journal illustrations can include:

    • Organisms
    • Landscapes
    • Structures
    • Measurements
    • Labels
    • Additional written information
    • Being “good at drawing” is not required!

    Journal prompts can include:

    • One of my goals is…
    • Today I improved upon…
    • One of my challenges is…
    • This experience taught me…
    • If I were to repeat this experience I would...

    Journal assessment can be based on:

    • Length of writing
    • Touching on all points in the prompt
    • Level and depth of detail
    • Completeness/thoroughness of ideas

    It is often helpful to:

    • Have students write silently
    • Have more than one prompt for students to choose from
    • Include “Write anything else you want to write” at the end of each prompt
    • Correct, but not penalize for incorrect spelling and grammar
    • Give written, personal feedback when assessing journals