FASTLY - Faith & Science Teaching

Part 1: Course Orientation


Journal Reflection

The goal of this lesson is to introduce the concept of journaling to students and have them begin this practice.

Sometimes students learn in school to become focused on task completion and getting answers right; this course calls more upon their capacity for reflection. Today’s lesson introduces this idea and engages it through the practice of journaling.

You may begin by debriefing the homework activity Identifying Issues, which was assigned at the end of the previous class session. Ask students to share:

  • What was surprising to them about working through the exercise with an adult?
  • Were there similarities and differences between the ways they worked through the exercise in class and the way their adult conversation partner(s) did?
  • What questions did their conversation partner(s) raise?

Building on this discussion, you may introduce the importance of journaling during the course. While not everyone is naturally inclined to journal, journaling can help foster the ability to reflect on our experiences. Journaling can help us understand God better, ourselves better, and/or the world around us better. Journaling can help us slow down when we feel so much pressure to speed up. You can emphasize that the focus in the course will often be less on completing tasks with the right answers and more on careful reflection; journaling can play a significant role in this process.

Let the students know that they will be keeping journals during the course. You may be able to purchase these for students; if not, be clear about what type of journals they should buy (size, page style, etc.). Then let the students know your expectations for the content of their journals. There is a sample of class expectations included in the Journaling Expectations handout, which you can modify to reflect your expectations for the course.

At this point, it might be helpful to discuss with students what makes a good journal entry.

Then you may introduce the idea of “practices” to students. Practices are things done regularly as part of an organized social activity. It can be helpful to include examples for students. The practices of theater, for instance, include collaboration, rehearsal, memorization, critique, design, and public performance. Let students know that practices require us to grow into certain virtues—if we cannot work well with others or respond constructively to critique, that will make the practices of theater harder, for example, so growing in the virtues of care and humility is relevant.

Assign students their first journal prompt and have them entitle it “Practices of Science and Faith.” Give them time in class to begin writing. For this prompt, ask students to journal on the following questions:

  • What are the practices you associate with faith? What are the practices you associate with science?
  • Read Psalm 19. If we pray this psalm, which kind of person is it asking us to be? Does this have any similarity to the kinds of character qualities that might support doing science well?

Plan to save the last ten minutes or so of this class session for discussing what students have written up to this point. This preliminary discussion can give you a chance to adjust students’ understanding of what they should be writing and to begin shaping their approach to journal tasks.

Ask them to complete this journal reflection for homework.

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Science, Faith, Virtue