Nature Journal

Formative Work: Developing Evidence of Readiness to Demonstrate Competency


Develop the skills, knowledge base and evidence needed to provide evidence of readiness to demonstrate competency in a summative assessment.

When learners "Track Thoreau" through nature journaling, they engage in formative work which offers them the opportunity to reflect and further develop their writing and observation skills as they seek to better understand Thoreau and transcendentalism.

A nature journal is both a visual and a written record of a learner's observations and thoughts. Before heading outside, learners should keep in mind these nature journaling tips and tricks...

Think Small

Focus on something that could fit in the palm of your hand. Detail will be more easily captured and observed this way.


Check out the vein structure of a leaf or the limb structure of a tree. Are the limbs opposite each other or do they alternate? Check out the edge of a leaf. Is it smooth or toothed?

Lean on Me

Carry something to lean on so you can make notes to hold on to your thinking until you can access your Google-Drive and write up your nature journal entry.


Find one thing to focus on at a time. Like that tree? Focus on a branch and then focus in on a leaf on that branch.

Capture Your Focus Point

Sketch or photograph your nature journal focus point. Use a smart phone or camera to capture your nature journal focus or to digitize a sketch . Upload directly from your phone or camera to your Google Drive and then insert the image into your notebook.

Click here to view a sample.

Ready to complete your own Nature Journal?

To better understand American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, we will head outside four times in each semester to "Track Thoreau". Tracking activities include nature journal responses and reflections on selections from Thoreau's Walden.

First, select the journal for the appropriate season. Then click on "File" and select "Make a Copy"

Next, rename the document (just delete the word "copy" and keep the rest). Lastly, save it to your Reader's & Writer's Notebook, located in your course folder.