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Introduction to Phenology and Nature's Notebook for Middle School

Use this Introductory Content with Middle School students as a primer for participating in a semester-long Nature's Notebook observation project. The students will make observations in their outdoor classroom once a week for the semester, and work on phenology as a topic twice a week.

The activities and lessons were done in the order appearing below. 

Class 1: 60 minutes

  • What do I know about Phenology? - KWL Worksheet 10 minutes
  • Intro to Phenology Powerpoint (link is below) in class, 40 minutes - 34 slides NOTE: Swap out slide #30 for local species
  • 10 minute visit to existing school courtyard to assess monitoring options
  • Homework: If the students will each be creating their own observation account, provide them with Student Set up Guide to do so at home.  This can also be done in the classroom if you have access to computers. Due to internet privacy, students must be at least 13 years old to have an account for Nature's Notebook. Instead, you may wish to create class accounts for students to work in groups, which you can reuse each year.

Class 2: 60 minutes

  • Intro to Observation and Journaling Activity 30 minutes outside, at the monitoring site. Includes time for reflection.
  • Assign each student a species to research based on those that exist at your monitoring location. Students select individual plants/trees that they would like to monitor for the rest of the semester. Mark them with masking tape, plant tags, or geo-locate them so the can easily be found on a return visit.  
  • Return to the classroom to being working on the Phenology Species Research Worksheet. You can assign the rest of the research as a homework assignment or complete it during a second class period.  Leave time for sharing what they found with classmates. 
Workshop Details