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How to Send Journals

TEA Suggestions

Comments from National Geographic Journalist

Journal Evaluation Project

HTML Primer

To Send Journals
Journal text is written as an e-mail. The structure of the e-mail is:
To: journals@tea.rice.edu

Subject: lastname journal mm/dd/yy
(e.g., shipp journal 01/09/99 - this is the JOURNAL day, which may not always be the day you are sending it!)

Cc: shippst@ruf.rice.edu

Body of the text is the journal entry.


  • If you wish to overwrite a journal entry, just resend the entry with an identical lastname journal mm/dd/yy. Note that re-sending a day's entry overwrites - it does not append.

  • You can insert certain html commands in your journal body to link to sites, bold the text, etc. Check out the HTML Primer.

  • Do not put a date in your journal body; our programs automatically paste the date into the journal based on your subject line. If you put the date in your journal body, it will appear twice.

  • Contact Steph to let her know if you wish your journals displayed as a calendar (most) or as a "table of contents" (e.g., Marge's Journal.).

  • For the table of contents format, the title of the journal be the FIRST TEXT LINE OF YOUR JOURNAL before the first "return" or paragraph break.

  • You may notice that symbols sometimes replace quotes or apostrophes. Two options to avoid this a) do not use MS Word; b) turn off "smart quotes" in MS Word (can be found in Word, under tools - options - autoformat. Deselect "replace straight quotes with smart quotes").

  • Thoughts on writing Journal Entries
    Joanna Hubbard
    Orientation August 5 to 11, 2000

    A Word on Why You Are Doing This The journals are one way to share the experience of research with others. They are a way to multiply your impact! They also are a way for you to document (for yourself) your own personal and professional growth.

  • This is the primary way people will find out about your field experience
  • They (and lots of them) will read it, more people than you think or know about
  • Check (and double check) your spelling, grammar, and ideas; verify the scientific accuracy-- ask yourself if it is something you want your name attached to publicly and permanently
  • Consider having someone else review it before it is posted
  • Don't stress over it too much, remember you can overwrite any journal, any time

    Planning Ahead
  • Read the journals of other TEAs, as many as possible, looking for what interests, intrigues or bores you (have your kids read them too!)
  • Think about how you want to write, what style (avoid a "dear diary" feel) you want to use
  • long story spread over many days?
  • daily focus on specific chunks of research?
  • short sections?
  • Read historical scientific journals of expeditions for insight and ideas - include social science, technology, history, geography - there are multiple opportunities for generating interest and for giving teachers in the classroom "jumping off points"
  • Think about the important details: length, tone, voice, features (glossary, paragraph subject headings, daily topic heading, question and answer, html links, pictures)
  • Think about who your audience will/might be? K - adult education students and general public. Make it readable and use age neutral language so anyone can read it without feeling talked down to. The general reading level you should aim for the general adult audience is upper elementary.
  • Ask you students to write you a note ahead of time with questions they want you to answer and take them with you to start yourself off
  • If you feel you will not be writing one day a week (I can't recommend this- you will miss out on communicating about some of the most interesting things that happen to you) decide in advance, clear it with Steph or Deb, and then be consistent about the day. Pick a day (ie. Saturday) which will not impact the students following your journal in the classroom
  • Take resources with you; general polar research references, history and natural history of your specific region, etc. This will help you answer questions and give you ideas for journals.

    Frequency and Responsibility
  • Do write every day, even if you can't post it daily: it is the fresh news for the outside world, it excites those reading it and following your adventures, it will worry them if you don't post a journal and the writing helps you focus and organize your thoughts, create new ideas
  • In some cases the technology will not support the sending of journals daily or even weekly. Keep up with your journals and post them as soon as you have access to the needed technology.
  • It is your responsibility to the program to write a journal daily and to make a hard copy of it when you get back to the states for the TEA records, do it

  • If your write about someone (support staff or science, etc) make sure it is ok with them and that they understand clearly that the information will be on the internet and be very public
  • Remember that the families of staff and researchers will be reading your journals: edit danger, accidents and mishaps appropriately- they shouldn't hear it first from your public journal- many on the ice elect not to tell family about these events until they are off the ice
  • Check before you write about things that others at the station/camp do- some leisure activities especially may not be Raytheon or NSF approved
  • When you write about ongoing science, give the research team a heads up when you are talking to them and let them look over what you have written before it is posted for accuracy as well as not giving away proprietary information before publication
  • Accept and respect anyone's wishes about things they do not want published, it isn't your call to make
  • There is both public and private life taking place on the ice, use your common sense and compassion on what to write about
  • many things will be private and not for public consumption
  • your journal is not an expose: details about absolutely everything no matter
    what is not the point
  • the station, camp or ship is a home that you have been invited into
  • you will find out about others' gossip, tantrums, love lives, etc
  • -be conscious of the image you are presenting of yourself, others, teachers,TEA and NSF
  • Your journals also have your PI's name on them, be professional

    Public Relations
  • Make sure staff, science, etc. know what you are doing, the time your TEA work takes you
  • Be visible when you work on the journal entries, invite others to read, suggest and contribute- this will open doors to different experiences, people will be more helpful
  • Do not take up time without giving back (volunteer some of your help) and make sure the timing is convenient to anyone you are interviewing- everyone at/on a station/camp/ship is under time pressure

  • Remember that you are a member of a research team, therefore the content primarily should reflect the science! Elaborate on research: What is the experiment? What are the results? Why is the science important? What are researcher's doing now? Why? What are the implications of their findings? What questions are being asked and why? Get the background research and the science basics- break it down
    Share (approved!) research results through web.
    Describe successes/ failures.
    Conduct and report student experiments. Accept and conduct student experiments while in the field where possible.
    Include research, technology, engineering, tools, instruments, scales, etc.
    Share what it takes to do research and recall that scientists are not the only critical ingredient to the process.
    Share the practical use of the scientific process.
    Ask questions - help students learn to ask questions.
    Send data!!
    Provide ideas and resources for activities that can be done in the classroom.

  • Go with basic who/what /where/why questions for starters to each journal.
  • Use anything and everything around you (readers want to know about station life and natural history of the area as well as about your science project)
  • Do write enthusiastically about all aspects of your science teams project, include data if possible
  • Define words and acronyms
  • Vary topics day-to-day
  • Tell about travel to your research location, how you get there from your home, weather, climate, light, what people do for fun, special events, station procedures (communications, fire drills...)
  • Use emailed questions (when you incorporate students questions, answer by name/location, first name and state - do not use last name).
  • Include artwork, maps, etc.
  • Give adequate descriptions of images. How does it relate? What does it show?
  • Include question(s) at the end - answer in next day's journal.
  • Don't neglect staff. Raytheon/AGUNSA/Kiwis/ship/VECO have interesting and important jobs, stories, and background. They usually have longer periods of experience on the ice than anyone else
  • Ask more philosophical questions also, How did you end up working in Antarctica? Why do you return? Why is it important to you?
  • What if someone only reads one of your journals? Will they get an understandable story and a feeling for the big picture?

    Technology On-Site
  • Be flexible
  • Be realistic about what may be feasible at your location
  • It is beneficial to have your own laptop to work on if it can be supported where you will work
  • team dedicated station computers may be in use primarily for science
  • there are some public machines, but remember these are in use by support staff as their contact with the outside world, do not hog time
  • batteries and screens must be kept warm
  • at some field camps, it will not be possible to have any computer, ask your PI
  • Technology is fallible, make back-ups and hard copies frequently
  • Micro-casette recorders are useful for interviews with staff and science, they can talk as quickly as they need to and you can verify the accuracy of your information as you write

    Tips for Journal Entries and E-mail Correspondence with Students and Schools
    Compiled by Sandra Kolb

  • Include photos (photos create interest for kids).
  • Write for readability and interest.
  • Discuss both successes and failures.
  • Make it personal and human.
  • Respect confidentiality.
  • Avoid asking personal questions.
  • Have a positive attitude (donšt gripe and complain, put down kids).
  • No question is a dumb question.
  • Include your location (especially if you move around).
  • Tell about where youšre at even if you are delayed in CHCH.
  • Include the weather.
  • Include experiments.
  • Reframe questions with questions to encourage kids in the process of inquiry.
  • Relate it to home. (i.e. What is the science and how does it relate to the student?)
  • Include resources (i.e. websites).
  • Include interviews of scientists and workers (humanize).
  • Write "stand-alone" entries.
  • Check with researchers if there are content questions.
  • When replying to students, answer by first name only and by state (do not include location).
  • Include a question at the end.
  • Include technology/engineering questions, not just research science.
  • Include fact sheets.
  • Include student proposed experiment results.
  • When writing experiments, use the scientific process.
  • Be a translator.
  • Donšt make it too long.
  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Method (not too technical for kids).
  • Include personal feelings.
  • Portray your passion.
  • Include your struggles (donšt make it too clean).
  • Capture the moments of change for new learning.

  • National Geographic Representatives
    Priit Vesiland, Writer and Editor and Maria Stenzel, Photographer
    Orientation March 17, 2000

  • Remember you are telling a story. You want the reader to follow along to the next paragraph, to be involved in what is happening. The details should add to the story. Be ruthless in your editing.

  • Remember that not everyone who reads your journal will read every entry. Give a short intro to a colleague in each entry in which they appear.

  • The journal does not have to reflect all of the events of a day. Pick a topic/aspect of your day and convey it to your audience. This is not a personal diary.

  • Remember that some aspects of your experiences will have been covered by other TEAs (e.g., the trip to Antarctica, happy campers school). Give these a new twist or focus on other topics.

  • Using quotes from individuals lends authenticity.

  • May want to carry a small notebook with you to make notes so you do not forget detailed information.

  • In the Arctic: There are cultural differences. Many indigenous peoples consider impolite to ask questions. Don't just sit down and start asking questions, get to know people first.

  • Use basic good writing sense ­ be consistent with voice, do not jump tenses, check grammar and spelling!

  • Remember that science is proprietary, ask before posting any details that might be sensitive. Ask your PI what is sensitive.

  • You have an obligation to cover the science. Explain the science to your audience. Do not assume prior knowledge. Pictures may be crucial to helping you convey the science.

    Journal Evaluation Project
    Conducted by: Ana Aslan, Arlyn Bruccoli, and Bhaskar Upadhyay
    Teachers College at Columbia University, Quantitative Evaluation Methods in International Education

    To disseminate the science and the personal experience gained by TEA parcticipants in the Arctic and Antarctic in a more effective manner in the future; we make the following recommendations. The evaluation team based these recommendations on a thorough analysis of the online journals and the surveys from the TEAs, Non-TEA teachers, and the students who read or used the TEA journals.

    Provide workshops and training for new program parcticipants on how to write effective journal entries.
    The Online Journal is a key communication component of the TEA Program. Because these journals are posted on the TEA Program's Web site, they remain a public record of an individual TEA's experience and also serve as representatives of the program to the Web site's visitors. A journaling workshop would support the TEAs' efforts to effectively communicate their field experiences. Such a workshop would benefit the program through both its outreach efforts and its ability to increase the professional capacity of its parcticipants. The orientation workshop is the ideal time for the program to increase the journaling skills of its parcticipants. During orientation, new parcticipants could learn about journal techniques through a review of sample journals from past TEAs. New TEAs could also benefit from working with a professional in this field, who could discuss strategies for conveying experiences through written communication.

    Keep the readability of the journal entries at the level of the intended audience, students, teachers, parents, community members, etc.
    Students, teachers, parents, and community members (any adult other than the ones listed) have different levels of language skills. The journal of a TEA will be stronger if the writer is aware of the needs of her/his audience. As noted in the findings many students have recommended that TEAs communicate through less complex language or include daily sections for students in their journals. As an alternative to simplifying the journal entry, writers can define scientific words as they appear in their journal entries. When writing to younger students TEAs can also work to use less complex sentence structures, than they might use when writing to adults.

    Keep different sections in the journal entries for each kind of audience, students, teachers, and other adults.
    Because of the near impossibility of engaging all audiences through one communication style, TEAs should consider (some have done this) including sections for different audiences in their journals. When writing a section to students, TEAs must be careful to continue to engage the audience in the processes of science, as well as their personal perspective. Addressing different audiences in separate sections, helps the writer to focus on the needs of the audience such as; the type of information to be included, language level, and word complexity. The student suggestion with the third highest frequency was to include a "Kids or children's section".

    Focus on one topic in a given journal entry
    Focusing on a given topic supports the TEA's ability to develop a powerful journal entry, as it requires the writer to address a topic in-depth and avoid summarizing. A focus also supports the writer's ability to convey the processes of the parcticular scientific research and the polar experience.

    Provide cultural, environmental, and scientific information to readers while waiting for transport to the field
    Students, teachers, and other readers of the journals seek to learn something out of every entry. It is not uncommon for TEA parcticipants to experience delays while traveling to their field sites. The program could support the TEAs and improve the content of entries written during these delays by addressing this issue at orientation. TEAs should be made aware of such situations and be advised how to best utilize them in their journals. Whether a TEA is waiting for transport in Greenland, Alaska, Chili, or New Zealand, they are still in a place that his/her readers may never experience. During these times, TEAs should make an effort to convey a sense of the environment, the culture, and any science related topics they observe.

    Do not assume that a reader has read previous entries
    As we reviewed the journals there were times when we found it difficult to understand certain sections as we had not read all of the prior entries. TEA writers should be advised to include a brief summary of any previously mentioned complex topic or major event, which they are developing in subsequent entries. From the non-TEA teacher and student surveys, we found that, like this evaluation team, some classes did not read every entry. While a concept in a journal may best be developed over several entries, to some degree each entry should be able to stand on its own.

    Allow the TEAs more time to write journals while they are in the field
    We found that TEAs felt they needed more time to write their journal entries. Since journal entries are the only way in which they can communicate with the people outside their field, it is of utmost essence that there should be a separate time for it. The program should consider allowing the TEAs an editing day each week. As opposed to requesting the TEA record an entry everyday, the program should consider asking the TEAs to record five a week, with one day being for editing her/his entries over the past week. The research team should also be aware of the intensity of this requirement of the TEA member of their team.

    Make necessary changes in journal entries
    We recommend that the TEAs, after returning from the field, edit their journal entries. Because the journal entries are open to all the people, it is important that the journal entries are well presented. Journal entries play an important role in informing readers about the polar research experience. At the end of the field experience the program should encourage TEAs to review and edit their journal. One way to encourage this activity is by allotting post field time for editing purposes.

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