When I was in college, my immunobiology professor decided to have us write journal entries for a whole pile of scientific research articles we were supposed to read. As I soon found out, yes, it was time-consuming to do more than just read, but wow, I did retain a lot more about the articles than if I had just read them and tossed 'em aside. Scribbling, taking notes, and asking questions as you read is a valuable skill in any subject area, but it can be pretty helpful in science! Sensing this need, Great Source has created Science Daybooks, which are very similar in some ways to their Daybooks for Critical Thinking and Writing (see our Reading section for details), but tailored to science, and incorporating activities and research along with the readings.
Each chapter features one or two readings on science, excerpts from science books, magazines, newspapers, radio shows, literature and poetry. As in the Daybooks for reading, these feature ample room around the edges of the reading for note-taking and thinking. Each chapter begins with an introduction to the reading(s) to provide a little background, and is paired with a "Before You Read" question to kick-start those brain engines. The reading follows, with plenty of room for notes, and a few related questions for the reader to answer. Special vocabulary words are highlighted in bold and are defined at the bottom of the page, so students don't have to flip back and forth to a glossary. An assortment of different activities rounds out each chapter and asks the student to extend their knowledge and apply what they've learned from the reading. These activities may include recalling facts or thoughts from the reading, answering questions related to the reading or on similar topics, comparing and contrasting related topics, using graphic organizers and charts to organize information, and much more. More involved follow-up assignments include hands-on Activities, research Projects and Science Journals. These are scattered throughout the book, with only one of these "more involved" activities included per chapter. Hands-on activities or experiments are offered with readings where the student can "do" something related to the topic understand it better. These are basically science experiments, and include a materials list, a step-by-step procedure, and a series of questions about the experiment. Materials listed are mostly commonly-found items, with a few exceptions (like a hand-crank generator in Book 5). Projects are more research-oriented and ask the student to research related topics, to make a display, or to observe something in his or her local area. "Science Journal" activities offer the student space to write a journal entry, letter, or other piece of writing related to the topic studied. At the end of each unit, brief questions are included for all of the reading material in the unit for review. Besides the wide variety of readings and activities, the books themselves are inviting and exciting to the eye, with full-color photos, diagrams, and snazzy page layouts. The Life Science, Earth Science and Physical Science Daybooks are designed for slightly older students and vary from the others just slightly; these features two-color illustrations, not full-color, and have 20 chapters (vs. 24 for Books 4 and 5) and focus exclusively on life, earth, or physical science topics.
Each lesson references the grade-appropriate Sciencesaurus, listing page numbers for the corresponding topic. The student is able to glean the information needed to answer questions, as well as other interesting facts. Books can be purchased separately or in bundles for a complete curriculum. The Sciencesaurus is a terrific reference book and you can see the full description in the reference section
The Teacher's Guides offer additional support for the readings, and supply answers and teaching notes. On each page, the corresponding student page is included in reduced format (with answers in red), and teaching notes fill the margins. Additional resources for the teacher for each chapter include: key ideas, lists of skills used in each chapter, vocabulary lists, questions for discussion, additional help to guide students through activities, activity extensions, and additional activities. The Teacher's Guide also follows the student's book page for page, which is helpful for checking work! Although the teacher's guide would be helpful to have (especially to check answers quickly) you could likely function without it, especially if you're of an inquisitive mind and don't mind thinking through the questions yourself to check them.
Science Daybooks would be a great science supplement for the student who loves to read and write, but perhaps isn't crazy about science - or the student who loves science and could use a little more help with their writing and critical reading skills. If your science curriculum could use a little help to get your students thinking "beyond the book", you might try one of these. Please note that this series is from a secular publisher and some readings and questions will reflect this. - Jess