Teacher Lesson 2: CREATE YOUR SALMON JOURNAL
Recommended for grades 3-8
This lesson offers fish hatchery pre-visit activities, as well as some ways to make your actual visit go well (because, as it is with all “field activities,” advanced planning makes all the difference).
Introduction to Keeping a Student Journal
(Background information for the student “Taking Note of Fish and Wildlife” Learning Activity)
A student journal is an excellent way of recording the entire experience of studying aquatic resources and visiting related sites, such as hatcheries. After all, noteworthy people such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry David Thoreau, and David Douglas all kept personal journals! A journal is much more than a diary or log. It is a tool for recording what one sees, learns, feels, and dreams. It can capture a student’s creative thoughts. It can encourage students to search, see, and think in new ways. It can set students free to express feelings, values, and attitudes that might be difficult to say out loud. And it gives students a way to develop and apply their own creative talents. Keeping a journal based on an area of study or the current year is a good way to start.
In this lesson you will have your students:
- Begin their first journal using any bound book with blank pages; or create a journal from scratch as an arts and crafts activity.
- Make a personal bond with their journals by creating a cover of their own design. Have them draw or paint the cover, or glue pictures, objects, or whatever to the cover to make it their own. There are no limits – just have them make it truly theirs.
- Develop their journals in their own styles, using their own techniques to make journal entries (it’s best to use unruled paper, letting them provide as much structure as they need).
You may want to have students include other things in their journal besides things related to this curriculum. Again, there are no limits. For instance, you could have them write their predictions and expectations for the hatchery visit, and then have them validate the predictions and express their view of met or unmet expectations after the visit.
Some advice and ideas from experienced journal keepers include:
- Vary your entry style. Even changing the color of the pen you’re using can change the mood and insights of the writer or reader.
- Use pictures, sketches, photographs. Even water color blotches can bring the page (and your thoughts) to life. Capture those lyrics, titles, quotations, and other meaningful gems that greet you daily but escape if they are not written down.
- Grow by taking risks. Your journal is a safe place to risk placing new ideas and new techniques of expressing yourself on the page.
- Give your pages special smells by pressing leaves or flowers or other objects in your journal (smell is the strongest of the senses to key memories).
- Write your actual observations on one side, and how you feel about what you saw on the other.
Learning Activity: Taking “Note” of Fish and Wildlife
This activity was adapted from original material by Bill Hammond, Director Environmental Education, Lee County Schools, Fort Myers, FL
- A personal journal can record new thoughts and knowledge, and new ways of expression.
- Writing down new knowledge and descriptions of new experiences, and the personal thoughts and reactions to those experiences, enhances writing skills and improves creativity.
- You decide how you want your students to create their journal. For example, it might simply start with a spiral notebook, or your students can create one from scratch with paper and materials. Whichever way, the best way to make a journal to which your students will bond is to encourage them to be creative as they “make it their own.”