5 Reasons to try Math Journals in your French Primary Classroom

Have you ever had this common math teacher problem happen to you?

You do a GREAT job teaching a unit to your students. Tons of hands on practice, everybody seems to get it, all around great results.

Full of joy and confidence and patting yourself on the back, you finish up the unit, and move onto something else.

Then, a few months later, you refer back to what you taught.

Despite having all understood it perfectly weeks ago, almost every student stares blankly back at you, as if they have no idea what you are talking about!

It's happened to me - more than once!!!

My first two years of teaching, I would teach a unit, and then move on. But, I quickly realized that my students were forgetting previous units as their brains made room for new information, and buried the things that I had taught that they were no longer actively using (likely in order to make room for the new information!).

That did not sit well with me, and I knew I had to find a solution.

What's my solution?

Math journals!!!!

Here are 5 reasons I think you should give them a try:

Do your students have a hard time retaining important math concepts after you move on from a unit? Using math journals in your French primary classroom is a GREAT way to incorporate spiral review into your math block - ensuring your students won't forget what you have taught them! Here are 5 reasons why math journals are AMAZING in elementary French immersion

Math journals review concepts and vocabulary that we have been working on all. year. long!

There is nothing worse than when you learn a concept in September/October, evaluate it for report cards, and then never speak of it again for the rest of the year. It drives me CRAZY when that happens, especially with math. You know that they will need to dust off those skills for next year!

Second-language students also need as much exposure to important vocabulary as they can get, and sometimes math words aren't used that frequently in other subjects. While completing math journal problems, students will be practicing listening to and following oral directions, en français.

They give kids who may not have been ready to really grasp a concept earlier in the year the chance to keep trying and eventually get it.

I have kiddos who just could not get patterning with more than two elements in October. They could barely speak French, so it really wasn't their fault that they were lost!

Now, they are patterning champs!

With math journals, we revisit patterning over and over again. This gives my students opportunity after opportunity to get it right, even after we have moved on from that unit.

If we had not been practicing patterning all throughout the year, these students probably wouldn't have the foundation they will need to be successful next year.

They force my "math whizzes" who like to do everything in their heads to draw a picture.

In fact, it kind of tricks them into it and they don't even complain ;)

I am proud of my students who have very strong mental math skills, but someday they will arrive at a question that is too complicated or has too many steps to do in their head.

I want these students to know what to do, and have a whole bunch of strategies at the ready for when this day comes!

You can easily use them to teach vocabulary and link them to themes you are teaching in the classroom.

This year, for example, Saint Patrick's Day happened over March Break. The week before March Break was Semaine de la francophonie. We did not have very much time for any fun Saint Patrick's Day activities.

But, I still taught them words like "farfadet", "pièce d'or", "trèfle", etc. via math journals!

We do questions about all sorts of relevant, seasonal things. By having different prompts for each month, you can ensure 5-10 extra minutes of vocabulary that is key for that time of year - during your math block!

This extra exposure is so important for my FSL learners! I get my kids to share their work with a partner after we are finished, so it gets them talking and comparing even more.

They take less than 10 minutes a day.

Seriously! 12 max if you add the partner share at the end.

Below is a picture of the journals that we use. They are unlined, which encourages my students to draw.

This is our second set of the year - the first set had cute little labels on them. I am a little less concerned with cute once we hit mid-year ;) #realtalk

Here are a couple of pictures of some Saint Patrick's Day-themed entries:

If you want to give Math Journals a try in your classroom, I have great news!

You can get a sample of my math journals for FREE by filling out your info below.

Just enter your name and email address, and I will send you a page of journal prompts for each month of the year (Sept-June) for maternelle AND première année.

Or, if you already know that math journals are for you, you can check out my math journal prompts on TPT by clicking the images below:

Enjoy your week!!!

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    I Spy... Easter fun!

    Well, I have got to say that this March Break has not been overly exciting. Two snowstorms and 90ish cm of snow had the city pretty much shut down for the past couple of days! Lots of time to get work done, but hard to get visiting and other fun things in. Tomorrow I am going to try and squeeze in a couple of visits with friends and a yoga class (my body is starting to get antsy from sitting still!!) and then decide if I should head home tomorrow ahead of the incoming Saturday storm and risk being snowed in without internet, or stay in the city and risk not getting in to my classroom before Sunday. I have a LOT to do in there! Decisions, decisions.

    I posted on the old blog a bit about our Saint Patrick's Day I Spy activity (C'est moi l'espion - la Saint-Patrick). I wanted to post here again, because I have made an Easter version over the break for sight words. Also because I figured out how to block their sweet little faces so I can show more photos. Here are a couple of pictures of my little leprechauns working hard:
     My students really enjoyed this activity, and it was very low-prep - all I had to do with print a copy for each student and find them each a magnifying glass. They used the magnifying glass to search for the hidden words in the picture. I find it hard for my students to get good practice decoding words, because in the French language there are a LOT of silent letters and sons composés that can throw them off. It is frustrating for a child who has just been told and told that certain letters make certain sounds to then be told "oh, well in this word, that letter is silent!". So, for my Saint Patrick's Day pack, I chose words for them to find that ONLY use letters who make their sounds (parc, va, kiwi, etc.). The first time we did this activity, I gave everyone a magnifying glass and a sheet and they worked individually. I asked them to say the word out loud as they were working, but to be honest... you could hear a pin drop. They were so into it! Which was good, but... not exactly what I was looking for. The whole point of the activity was to get them READING the words, not copying them!
    So focused!
    So, when we did the activity again a couple of days later, I kicked it up a notch. The 10 sheets included in the pack use words of different lengths. Some pages have 2 letter words, some 3, and so on to 5 letter words. I have a combined class, so it can be tricky to find stimulating activities for everyone. The first page that we did together used only 3 letter words. The second time we did this, I printed out different sheets for different students depending on their ability to blend sounds, and put them in partners with someone else working on the same sheet. I gave each group only one magnifying glass. Then, I asked them to take turns. One partner (determined by "rock, paper scissors") took the magnifying glass and found a word. That partner then had to READ the word they found out loud, saying every sound. The other partner had to WRITE the word as best they could, based on what they heard. Then they could self-check while the first partner also wrote the word they found. Then they switched jobs. It was awesome! It took them much longer to finish the sheet (which I like to think was because they were using their little brains for more than just copying), and I heard many little voices reading the words on their sheet. Their brains were thinking and blending and figuring out what the words were. One little munchkin even came to me after and asked if some of the words were nonsense words, because his partner had missed a letter so the word just didn't make sense! Bless him!
    This activity was such a success the second time around that I decided to make an Easter version too, this time using sight words. I have some very strong grade ones (and one primary!), who are ready to practice more challenging sight words than the rest of my group, and a couple sweeties who are still mixing up the basics. The "C'est moi l'espion - Pâques" pack should help give everyone some much-needed practice, while having fun. If you're interested in checking it out, click on the picture below to see it in my store.

     Saint Patrick's Day is over, but if you are interested in a Freebie to see what the activity looks like, there is one available in my FREE French Resource Library. It is in the "Seasonal/Holiday" section.

    (Don't have access to the library yet? No problem! Just enter your info below, click the pink button, and I will email you the password!)

    Happy shoveling! :)

    PS - Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I'll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made - and will ever make!