Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Math Journals & Notebooks

This is one of the times I feel very grateful to have connections to both the public school and homeschool community. Excitement bubbles in the homeschool world over lapbooks (we do an "on-steroids" version called Portfolders), closely followed by notebooks, where students demonstrate learning through student-made folders, foldables and creative notebook pages. Some homeschoolers focus specifically on math. Recently, I've seen a lot of fabulous information on teacher blogs about using journals/notebooks in the context of math. Since we are using math notebooks this year,  I'm enjoying...

1. Designing our journal covers
I love this idea. This teacher had her students design journal covers using "Math About Me." Students used numbers, pictures, word problems, etc. to represent themselves mathematically. In an upcoming post, I'll share ours...along with some fun extensions.

2. Basic Journal Pages
I'm using blacklines from the Bridges Math Journal as pages. The bulk of the pages are centimeter grid paper which makes it helpful when we're doing math problems, drawing graphs, making diagrams, etc. The back of the journal includes visuals in a blank math glossary (designed for students to fill in) which matches the Word Resource Cards that we use. I'm going to have my student refer to the visual glossary and the Word Resource Cards whenever we add vocabulary to the journal.

3. We'll use flaps, foldables and other interactive models.
In our Portfolders, we use a lot of flips and flaps to demonstrate learning in fun, interactive ways. Dinah Zike is the Queen of Foldables and has many great resources, including Big Book of Math and Notebook Foldables. Some of these are displayed at Simply2ndResources.

So what exactly are math journals/notebooks for? We'll be using them to...
  • Write our own definitions of math vocabulary used in our daily lessons.
  • Demonstrate our understanding of math using pictures, numbers, diagrams, etc... 
  • Refer back to math concepts that we explored earlier in the year. We'll continue to add to our knowledge by revising and adding to what we've already written.
  • Provide ample opportunity to write in the context of math.
  • Explore problem solving in creative ways, often using children's books.
  • Look at math in many settings: daily life, historical, games & more
These are other places I'll be visiting!

Runde's Room

Jimmie on Math Notebooking

Math Journals Boost Real Learning

I'll be back soon with examples from our notebooks! Would you like to share yours?


  1. I'm LOVING my math journals this year - and more importantly, the students are, too. I had previously just used them to solve some problems, and write about their learning. Adding foldables this year has been so EXCITING! It's funny you mentioned the children's books - I just bought a new (well, new to me, at least) math resource - Math and Literature for grades 4 - 6. It explores problem-solving through children's books. I can't wait to start reading through it, and I just ordered a new copy of the Math Curse so I can start trying some lessons from it right away.

    Runde's Room

  2. I love this idea. It is extremely helpful,and would be a good tool to use even above middle school. I kept several math journals through school and it helped me soooooooo much. I have been out of school for 12 years now and still keep math journals. I am constantly researching and learning new techniques and theories in math and I have to write it down in my journals. My wife thinks its funny but she was never much of a math enthusiasts like I am. She still caters to my math OCD and will buy me new empty notebooks from time to time when she is out.

  3. Hi. At what age do you start Math Journaling? I am currently doing Living Math concepts with my 5.5 year old. We read math books, measure, play games, etc. I plan to start Right Start math in the Fall when he is 6. Would a math journal help to cement math at that age, or should I wait?

    1. I think you could do it at any age (as long as content was developmentally appropriate), but I would probably tend to "play" more in K-2 and save a math journal til more like 3rd grade as a way to record ideas and solidify more complex mathematical concepts.


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