Have you ever been teaching a math lesson and found yourself wondering why students just weren’t grasping the concept? We have all been there one time or another. Often times, it’s something we think students should not struggle with. One way to combat this madness is to use math journals in your classroom.
What is a math journal?
A math journal is a place for students to put their work and their thoughts down. In this math journal, students write down the work they are doing, any questions they may have as they go through, and of course the final result. In the elementary, math journals can be a lifesaver for students and teachers. Here are 5 ways to use them in the classroom to get the max benefit out of them.
#1: Taking Notes
Math journals are great for many things but one of the best resources a math journal becomes is a place where all of your notes, activities, practices, and assignments are. When students have everything in one place, it becomes easier for them to keep track of everything and to look up information in the end. I would recommend making your math journal into more of a binder so students can put their practices, assignments, and tests in with their notes so they have something to reference when you spiral back and review.
#2: Playing Scoot in Math Journals
Beyond taking notes, math journals can be great for reviewing. One of the best games to play when you review is Scoot. When you put Scoot into your student’s math journals, they can check out how other students did and either learn from them or help them understand the concept better. Playing Scoot is fun no matter how you do it, but adding it to your math journal gives students an extra resource to use. Here’s another bonus! You can get this free Scoot resource to work on in your classroom.
#3: Asking Questions
One of the biggest things I find myself telling students to do is ask questions when they don’t understand. However, this can be difficult for students who are shy, English language learners, or embarrassed at not understanding. Instead of traumatizing themselves, they can simply ask a question in the journal for you to answer. Yes, you will have to glance through the journals daily, but that’s good practice anyways. In addition, you might find that you have a common question that students need help with which can guide your instruction for the following day.
#4: Tracking Learning
Another benefit to using math journals is the ability for the teacher to track learning. By having the math journals, you can see the students’ growth and you can map that out. From there, you can use the data you collect to help understand state testing and to prep for state testing with math.
#5: Centering Your Learning with Math Journals
Finally, you can use math journals in your centers. This means there is something you don’t have to create because your students will already have one to take with them. Students can carry their math journals to the centers.
When you’re working with them, you can use the journals to help see where there is great understanding and what still needs work. Plus, all of their work is in one place! So whether you’re working with money, addition, or subtraction, it’s all in one place and they can reference past work to help them with the new work!
Bonus #6: Digital Math Journals
Math journals can be digital! You can make a digital math journal for your students to work on at home with their parents!
Math journals are a great asset to add to your classroom. Not only do they help you track student learning, but they also give students a great resource to use throughout the school year.
We all know the same concepts come up over and over again, math journals ensure students will have a place to go to remind them of old skills they may need to solve new problems.