Thursday, January 3, 2013

How math journals are turning my kiddos into problem solvers

Friends. Two Words. MATH JOURNALS.
If you can find 15 minutes, then you can get your kiddos to start thinking like problem solvers and using words to reason through math. Thank about the math you solve in the real word. When you're grocery shopping, arranging furniture, replacing the floors in your home, budgeting for the month. We use problem solving techniques on a daily basis. We need to teach our kiddos to start thinking this way. PLUS -- he-LLO! Common core is alllllll about multi-step word problems and helping our kids to problem solve.
Enter MATH JOURNALS! Seriously, I started these in December and my kids have really been stretching their thinking. They were THRILLED to get a new notebook and love, love, love math journal time. If I skip it for whatever reason, you better believe I've got a bunch of sweet second graders asking why we didn't get out our math notebooks! I've been creating some monthly themed journals and, oh my gosh, kids LOVE having a theme... a little cute clipart and they are sold :)
So, here's how I use them in my classroom! I gave each kiddo a green math notebook, just your standard wide-ruled, 1 subject notebook. Each day, they get one prompt to paste onto the top of their math notebooks. The prompts print six to a page. I just cut them apart the week before so they're ready to be passed out. Click on the picture to download a few to try in your classroom!

This is how they look in the notebooks:

After they paste the prompts into their notebooks, I read the problem aloud.  You can see above that I encourage students to box/underline key words that will help them solve the problem.  They are then given 5-7 minutes to solve on their own.   In this time, they are expected to find the answer (showing ALL of their work) and explain how they came to their answers using words.  After that, I give them 3 or 4 minuets to discuss what they did with their tables, collaboration is really helpful when it comes to problem solving!  Then we share out our answers and go over strategies we used!
All in all -- It's a really beneficial 15 minutes of math time! I do these every day! :)  Most of the problems are multi-step word problems, though I do throw in a few prompts which are meant to review crucial second grade skills.
Check out my set of Arctic/Winter Themed January Math Journals by clicking the picture below! Keep your eyes open for a set of Valentine/Candy Themed February Journals! :)



  1. I love, love, love math journals. I implemented them two years ago and I have seen SO much growth in my kiddos with how they think about math. This looks like an awesome product. I'm following. :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  2. I need to be better about that. I am piloting the "Math Expressions Common Core" edition for my district with my 2nd graders (my 1st graders still have the old EDM series). The ME program includes 3 math writing prompts (below, on above) for each lesson, but they are not nearly as cute as yours:) I could use both I am sure somehow. :)

    You are setting a good example for me in blogging:) I have done 2 blog posts so far this year:) I am really looking forward to our product swap next week! :)

  3. I could not agree with you more about the importance of math journals! They are also great for differentiating. The way I do it is I actually always read the first problem outloud and give them time to solve. Then we come back and share our answers AND our written explanations. Then I let them choose the problems they would like to solve on their own. I let them know that I put the problems in order from easiest to most challenging. Then they get to pick the level they want to work on. My main goal with math journals is getting them to be able to explain their thinking. I love your post because it just reinvigorates my excitement for journals!

    Teaching and Tapas: 2nd Grade in Spain