A little post about math journals

Today I am going to write a little post about math journals. I LOVE math journals. We do them *almost* every day (since I only have 60 minutes of math per day, if I have an extra big lesson, sometimes we do mental math instead of journals, rather than in addition to journals). Math journals are also GREAT to use in second-language classrooms, such as French immersion. My 5 favorite things about math journals are:

1. They 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. 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.

2. 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. Now, they are patterning champs! If we had not been practicing patterning all throughout the year, they probably wouldn't have the foundation they will need to be successful next year. That repeated vocabulary helps here, too!

3. 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 haha. 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 them to know what to do and have a whole bunch of strategies at the ready for when this day comes.

4. 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. through math journals. This week, their questions are about Easter. 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! 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.

5. They take less than 10 minutes a day. Seriously! Maybe 12 if you add the share.

Basically, what I do during journal time is:

1. Read the problem out loud a couple of times once my kiddos find the next blank page in their journal. They start solving the problem with a picture right away.

2. I walk around cutting out the journal prompts and putting one on each child’s desk (yes, walking and cutting… in the fall I was on the ball and cut them out ahead of time, but I promise this works just as well!)

3. Once my students finish their drawing and solve the problem, they glue the prompt into their journal and raise their hand. I come check it and give them a stamp/happy face if it’s right, or guide them onto the right path if not (or if they have inverted numbers!!! 8+1 does NOT = P!).

4. Partner share. This only takes a couple of minutes, but I think it is important to get our students talking as much as possible… especially if French is their second language! They compare drawings and talk about what is similar and different. Sometimes, they only talk about the colours they used and who is an “artist”… but sometimes, a child notices that another child used a more efficient way to solve the problem. I think that’s when they really start to believe me that math strategies WORK, and it’s a good idea to have a bunch up your sleeve (they also get really good at picking out when their partners write their numbers the wrong way… heheh). We use math partners during math every single day (the same partners for about a week or so), so they are very quick about finding a quiet place with their partner, "rock, paper, scissoring" to see who shares first, and comparing their work. They LOVE to share, and learn very quickly that if they aren't efficient, they lose their chance!
Another note – I print out the whole month’s worth at a time and keep them together with a paperclip. I only have 15 students, so one copy of each page works for me. I definitely recommend the cutting and walking strategy – works great! Our prep time is so precious!! 

Here is a picture of the journals that we use. I find them expensive though (1.25$ per journal), and we go through 2 per year. Now that I have discovered Amazon, I will be looking for a larger, more cost-effective version for next year. 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:

I love comparing entries and looking at how different students drew their answers to the same question!

 I love how you can see different strategies at work. Check out this subtraction question - one student drew eight windows in a row, and another drew two groups of four windows. The first student also used a counting strategy we have been practicing - "compte et coche" to count the remaining students!

 Here is another. If a student finishes quickly, I integrate some literacy and ask them to add a setting to their math story (with color). The first student in this picture left to work with another teacher they day we did the question about the pieces of gold. He had glued in his question but didn't have time to draw his answer. He then drew the following day's answer on the wrong page. Oops! We fixed it after, but I promise you that these two students were answering the same question ;). Looking at these, you can see some students draw and count, and some recognize that it is an addition problem and write an equation. Sometimes, they ask me if they should write an equation - I tell them if they know it, add it in!

1 enfant cherche un farfadet. 5 autres enfants viennent l'aider. Combien d'enfants cherche le farfadet?
Here is a patterning question about Easter eggs. In kindergarten, students only need to be able to create patterns with 2-3 elements. However, I can use math journal time to check on who can extend and do more!

If you are interested in Math Journals for your classroom, I have sets for kindergarten and sets for grade one in my store. I also have a FREE set for each grade that you can try out to see if math journals are a good fit for you! The free sets include one page from each month of the year, with a sampling of what types of questions you can expect for each grade. They are in the "Mathématiques" section of my FREE French Resource Library.

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

If you click HERE, you can see all of the sets that are in my store. I have one set for each month (Sept-June) for both kindergarten and grade one! You can purchase each month individually, or if you know that you love math journals and want to use them all year long, I also offer a money-saving bundle. By purchasing the bundle, you get each set, but also get to save 5$! It's like getting two sets free ;) You can check out the bundles by clicking the images below.

Enjoy your week!!!

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