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Science Notebook Rubric Examples

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

This lesson will provide different strategies for developing appropriate science notebook rubrics for elementary, middle school, or high school classrooms. Read on for some examples of such rubrics you can use to complement your science lessons.

What Is a Science Notebook?

Science notebooks can be a powerful tool in the classroom. They can be used to foster critical thinking, as well as provide an opportunity for students to practice text analysis, writing, and mathematical skills. In general, science notebooks are organized by the left sides (even-numbered pages) and the right sides (odd-numbered pages).

The right-side pages of the notebook are used for teacher-driven activities related to specific content, such as close readings of articles, notes, or any other forms of information input that you as the teacher have provided for the students.

Science Notebook Organization
Science Notebook Organization

On the other hand, left-side pages are for student-driven content. This area is for students to practice working with the information, such as by creating visuals like a graphic organizer or cartoon or by completing other forms of practice exercises. A sample of a science notebook's table of contents would look something like the one below.

Sample Science Notebook Table of Contents
Sample Science Notebook Table of Contents

Getting Started with Science Notebook Rubrics

Before implementing science notebooks in the classroom, as a teacher you first want to consider your purpose in doing so. As you design your rubric, the purpose is very important in determining how you organize the rubric itself.

For a new teacher, this may be to help your students find a way to organize the multitude of different activities you are completing in the science classroom. Additionally, your students can use it as a tool later on to review for tests, quizzes, and major assignments.

If you are a more experienced teacher, you may be using science notebooks primarily as a tool to foster critical-thinking skills. In either case, or even if you are somewhere in between, you need to identify the purpose of using the science notebooks with your students before you begin to write rubrics to use with your students.

Designing the First Rubric

To start simply, approach the science notebook as an organizational tool. If you are working with students who struggle with reading, writing, and math, the focus of your rubric for this population would most likely be checking for organization and completion. When you have your students set up their science notebooks, be sure to have them set up a table of contents. Then, you can use it as a place to start your first science notebook rubric.

If you are working with younger students, and your goal is organization, you might try something like the example below.

Sample Science Notebook Rubric for Elementary Students
Sample Science Notebook Rubric for Elementary Students

In this simple rubric, we included a 'Requirement Met' column on either end of the notebook's table of contents. As feedback for students, the columns have a smiley face to indicate if the requirement is there and a frowning face to indicate that the item is missing.

For older students, your rubric could use a simple checkbox with a 'yes' or a 'no', rather than a symbol, to show whether or not they met the requirement. Or, if you want to use it as a summative assessment at the end of a topic, include point values in the 'Requirement Met' column.

Using a simple rubric like this empowers your students to become partners in the note-booking process. If they can't understand the rubric, then they won't gain anything from the feedback you are trying to give them. As you work with your students, you can expand upon your basic rubric and provide them with more feedback.

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