Note: This is not research, this is a quick glance at a program I did with one classroom.
Data shows that nature journaling is good for mindfulness and focus, but did you also know it creates neural pathways in the brain that also make you smarter? Ok I just made that up, but I do think it’s true. John Muir Laws says “Keeping a field journal develops and reinforces the most important science process skills; observation and documentation. All other parts of the process of science depend on these skills. We assume that we are naturally good observers, but learning to really see is a skill that must be learned and developed.”
Just look at all the “scholarly articles” that come up in one quick google search…. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=research+on+nature+journaling&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart
This year started out virtually and I was asked to bring nature journaling to 6th graders through their Google Classroom. I was impressed at how excited they were to visit their nearby nature. Once back in the classroom we took these same skills into the school pollinator garden. These students continued to amaze me with their observations. The teacher learned not to tell them what the name of plants were and let them observe. As the year progressed, we introduced the seek app and allowed the students to find names on their own.
As a cumulative study the teacher had each student upload all the journal pages they completed. I ran the following rubric on those pages and found an increase in the ability to capture additional meta data and reflections/connections. The observation skills are strong across the board at this school. These students have access to a school garden on most campuses, as well as access to a wetland classroom for exploration. Each student put in the pencil miles and their drawing skills increased as well. Students began to fill the page with drawings, make connections, and add details at the year progressed.
I can’t wait to follow these trends through multiple classes on a full school year and see how the data changes as the skills nature journaling cultivates becomes integrated into the classroom. Looking forward to 2021-2022
Rubric used for scoring & Graph of Data:
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