DE Summer School: SOS- Journals

Welcome the DE Summer School special edition of SOS.  Our S.O.S series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum. During August, we’ll be featuring our STAR Community’s favorite strategies and how they have made them their own.

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Journals PDF
link to all PDFs in the SOS series


Special thanks to DEN STAR and HS Chemistry and Physics teacher Michelle Joyce (@awesomescience and @marvellousmath)  from Collier County Public Schools  for sharing how she brought this SOS to her students.


We use S.O.S. journals throughout the year to explore prior knowledge, misconceptions, scientific understanding as well as progress in both formative and summative formats.  The journals are written into the second half of a composition notebook with diagrams and or word maps on left hand pages and written information on the right hand pages.

Students will either watch a video segment from DE (maximum 5-7 minutes) or a YouTube clip or a live demonstration by the teacher (or student volunteers).  Their journaling consists of three stages.

1.  Observations – immediately after observing the required material, students write down what happened and draw a labelled diagram to aid explanation.

2.  Questions – students then write down what questions they need answered, either by the teacher or by research (textbook, internet, each other, etc) before they can fully explain what happened or further information required.

3.  Explanations – students are then allowed to ask their questions, discuss with each other, or search for answers on their own devices or in books and write a detailed explanation of the science behind what they have observed.

By using independent journaling, all levels of students, including ESE, ELL, gifted students, can describe and explain to the best of their ability and also see improvement throughout the year.  The journal becomes part of their permanent record along with their student lab book (first half of the composition notebook).

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  2. Dana Johnston said:

    I love that this strategy takes something familiar to kids (journal writing) and adds a new twist to it. When kids have specific things to look for during a video, they are so much more engaged and take so much more away from watching when they know they are expected to have a product. I can’t wait to try this one.

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