Learning Module

Nature Note

A Nature Note is a detailed description of an interesting or noteworthy observation from the field. Nature Notes are short, specific to a time and place, and grounded in background information. The most exciting Nature Notes add to existing scientific knowledge and/or raise interesting questions for further investigation. This resource supports students in making producing Nature Notes for submission to Findings from the Field.

vitalsigns-7867.jpg

Learning Outcomes

Through creating, submitting, and reviewing Nature Notes, students will be able to...

  • Connect observations in the field with prior knowledge
  • Generate questions or ideas based on these observations
  • Communicate ideas clearly in writing
  • Peer review, provide feedback, and improve their work based on feedback received

Time Estimate
11 to 15 class periods

Audience
5-8

Learning Space
Outdoor

This guide is a suggested path for helping your students create a Nature Note for submission to Findings from the Field. You may choose to have students observe and write as an entire class, in small groups, or individually. You may choose to do this work as part of or as an introduction to a larger investigation or data collection effort. You may have your students do a single observation or record observations over time, such as a weekly forest outing to observe the same spot. Choose a process that is appropriate to your students, your curriculum plans, and your constraints. Whatever path you and your students take to get to the final product, is up to you. Ultimately, all submissions will be judged using the Nature Note Rubric.

All classrooms that submit to Findings are also agreeing to participate in cross-school peer review. We will send out full instructions for cross-school peer review after your class submits their Nature Note(s). Review should be completed within two weeks of receiving your peer review assignments and detailed instructions. Our goal is for students to have the opportunity to revise and resubmit based on the feedback your class provides.

Nature Notes and Peer Reviews will be submitted through the Findings website. You can find complete instructions for creating student accounts, submitting student work, assigning Nature Notes for peer review, and submitting reviews in the Resources for Educators. We recommend starting the process of collecting permission for student accounts as soon as possible.

Lessons: Creating a Nature Note

Lesson 1: Practice Scientific Observation

Estimated time: 1 class period (45 minutes)

Students use a professional Nature Note to learn about how observation drives scientific inquiry.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Scientific Observation Student Pages | Example Eastern Newt Nature Note


Lesson 2: Can Students Contribute Important Observations? Of Course!

Estimated time: 1 class period (45 minutes)

Students use Nature Note submissions from past volumes of Findings from the Field to preview expectations for their own writing and practice providing feedback. We recommend introducing students to the rubric early on to set them up for making high quality observations and preparing for peer review.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Nature Note Feedback Form | Example Student Nature Note


Lesson 3: Gather Background Information

Estimated time: 1 class period (45 minutes)

Students will connect to background knowledge or build knowledge of a new topic to support observations in the field.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Student Observations Datasheet | Topic Briefs


Lesson 4: Observations in the Field

Estimated time: 1 class period (45 minutes)

Students will make observations in the field, keep good records, and bring back their notes to the classroom to create a Nature Note.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Student Observations Datasheet


Lesson 5: Organize Observations and Make Connections

Estimated time: 1 class period (45 minutes)

Students will organize their observations and background information in preparation for writing their Nature Note.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Student Observations Datasheet


Lesson 6: Write the Nature Note

Estimated time: 1 to 2 class periods (45 to 90 minutes)

Students will review the Nature Note rubric once more before writing to check to see they have the information they need. When they are ready, they will use their existing notes to create a fully written Nature Note. They may use the provided writing frame or follow their own format.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Nature Note Feedback Form | Nature Note Writing Frame


Lesson 7: Review and Revise the Nature Note

Estimated time one to two class periods (45 to 90 minutes)

Students will use the Nature Note Peer Review Feedback Form to conduct in-class peer review and then hold peer review conferences.

Teacher Guide | Class Slides | Nature Note Feedback Form | Peer Review Conference Guidelines

Participate in the Broader Scientific Community

Students will submit their work and participate in cross-school peer review through the Findings from the Field website, where you can find detailed information for teachers and students. If you have questions about this process, reach out to Steve at [email protected]

Findings Website |Resources for Educators | Resources for Students