So I set up this blog years ago to help me keep track of what I do well and (more importantly) what I do poorly as a science teacher. I haven't made much use of it, because I just don't feel as though I have the time. Clearly, time management is something that I do poorly. I have got to find the time to reflect on how each lesson goes, or else I simply won't be able to improve my teaching in the way that I should be able to.
The one issue that is prompting me to finally write is lab notebooks. I don't know how many science courses require lab notebooks at the high school or college level, and I am a bit agnostic on their value. Lab assignments themselves are of paramount importance, but I am open to the argument that the composition notebook is not the best format for documenting the purpose, procedure, data, and conclusions of the students during the assignment. If somebody would make a compelling argument to that end, I would stop using composition books as lab notebooks and I would move on to some other format (digital or otherwise).
Until then I will continue using the composition book. This brings me to the title of this post. Next year I will have a composition notebook from each student by the end of the first week of school. That simply has to happen. I will have them securely locked in the cabinet in my room and they will not leave the classroom--that part I already manage to do most of the time. But in grading some of the notebooks I am finding all kinds of notes from the students in first couple of weeks of this school year, and many assignments are missing altogether. Too many notebooks simply start at the second lab of the year. Between my falling behind in grading the lab notebooks and my trusting that students would bring note books just because they needed them, I have left a gap where nobody was properly responsible, and the result is that assignments were not properly completed and documented. That simply isn't an acceptable practice.