Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Math Notebooks: Getting Kids to Think About Their Mathematical Thinking!

This summer, I decided to implement interactive math journals in my classroom this year.  During our first math lesson, I did just that!  I wouldn't say that they are truly interactive, as I haven't written much in them, but I will say that my students' math explanations and demonstrations of their thinking have wowed me!

When a new concept is being taught in math, students now automatically get out their math journals.  They know that with each new concept, they are to make a new math journal section.  Sections may be 1-3 pages in length.  The math journals serve many purposes..
  • Students create a record of their own mathematical thinking
  • They can infuse writing, art, and organization into math, which helps with understanding
  • Writing about math challenges students to think of this sometimes black/white subject in a different more grey (if you will) way.
  • Plus, students now have a reference book written in familiar language (their own) to refer to throughout the school year.
While journal entries all turn out different from student to student, they do all need to follow specific guidelines.  However, the guidelines are loose.  For example, I would never ding a student for writing more or less sentences than recommended.  Although the guidelines must be followed by every student, the interpretation of them can look vastly different from notebook to notebook.  I truly love seeing the creativity in their mathematical thinking! 

Notebook guidelines posted on the classroom wall.

A notebook page showing square numbers
A notebook page showing a different way to explain square numbers

Factor strings and prime factorization: I especially appreciate the examples at the bottom.
A student writing a page of conversions.  Students need to refer to a conversions table often.  Now, one is in place!

Students' different ideas on how to display a collected set of class data.  

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