The Art of Documenting Scientific Thinking: Visual Science Notebooks

Arts and sciences are areas of discipline often viewed as opposites--sometimes even as rivals. But essentially both the arts and the sciences compel us to ask and answer “big” questions. Inquiry, critical thinking, observation, creativity, perseverance, and imagination are habits of mind required (and developed) by both fields. Famous artists/scientists such as Leonardo DaVinci, Beatrix Potter, and Clare Walker Leslie provide rich mentorship for educators as we strive to engage our students in deep scientific and artistic thinking. This session will focus on elevating science instruction to a place where the creative inquiry process is honored, with literacy and visual art as highly valued partners. Specifically, the practice of keeping visual science notebooks will be highlighted as a method to engage students in creative inquiry, to help them document thinking, and to encourage children to ask and explore their own “big questions.”

Susan Antonelli

Susan Antonelli is an educational consultant who is author of the Wonder Teacher blog. Certified as an early childhood and elementary teacher, she also earned a master’s in elementary school administration from The Citadel. She began her career as a third grade teacher at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School, where she earned national board certification as a middle childhood generalist. She has since served in positions as grant director, adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, music and art teacher, preschool teacher, curriculum designer, and professional development leader throughout South Carolina.

For the past 13 years she has been co-instructor of The Creative Teaching Institute, a state-sponsored arts-focused graduate course for classroom teachers. In 2003, Mrs. Antonelli was given an Exemplary Achievement Award by the City of Charleston for dedication, vision, and work in the area of arts in education. Currently she serves as an instructional coach with Engaging Creative Minds, a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the arts and education communities by providing rich arts-based learning experiences for children. She is passionate about empowering teachers and engaging students through creative inquiry and the arts.