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The mutually reinforcing integration of science and art is clearly seen in the journals and notebooks kept by creative thinkers and explorers since the time of Leonardo da Vinci. The Naturalist’s Journal is an effective tool for learning about nature and science and can be an effective teaching strategy.
One of my goals as an educator is to connect youth to place and community through experiential learning. This connection then serves as the foundation for development of fundamental knowledge and core skills, such as collaborative problem solving, systems thinking, design process, research, entrepreneurship skills, and more. Today’s students are facing highly complex problems when they graduate from school and the solutions will require a transdisciplinary approach—economists, scientists, sociologists, engineers, educators, politicians all working together to solve climate change, peak oil, water shortages, food insecurity, biodiversity collapse and beyond.
Nature journals can be an effective tool for developing a connection to natural world around them, as well as an excellent way to integrate science, art, writing and history. By keeping a copy of student nature journals each year teachers can provide students with a rich record of the local history while introducing them to the study of phenology. There are multiple applications of nature journals and this article does a nice job of discussing the why and how of them.
Sometimes you celebrate the discovery of an idea that strikes you as a "mini-celebration" of science. "Writing and Drawing in the Naturalist's Journal" is my discovery for today. My middle school alternative students are highly motivated by any type of learning that includes pencils and drawing! The naturalist pencil drawings will motivate my students to add a bit more "explanation" and I am turning the page of this article feeling as if my time was spent wisely!
Alyce Dalzell (Peyton, CO)
Students tend to live in an environment that leaves nature out of it. Getting outdoors to do nature journaling gives them a firsthand experience with nature. Journaling slows them down so they can take time to consider and appreciate nature. While journaling students should write and draw both. This article goes on to give precise details on how to do nature journaling.
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)
This article is about creating a naturalist journal. This kind of journal is a collection of writings and sketches. As the author points out this kind of journal “helps students connect to and engage with nature.” This makes sense and for the kinesthetic-visual learner it is way to engage those modalities to reinforce a concept with a mental image. Even students who say they cannot draw can produce a simple labeled diagram that might create a cognitive pathway between a visual experience and a concept. Furthermore, it is conceivable that this sort of activity acts as a formative assessment to field work. Regardless, this is an interesting approach to reinforcing the concept that scientists are primarily observers and a journal is a fun way to practice that skill.
Adah (San Antonio, TX)
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