Stingray Staff

Stingray Staff
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Curricular feature: Math Journals

One of our main curriculum initiatives is finding ways to deepen student understanding and interaction with knowledge through the use of journaling.  While I have found journals in all the classrooms I have visited to this point, what they look like and how students are using them is as different as each teacher is in their teaching style.  That is the wonderful thing about teaching, the art of teaching.  I love seeing how each journal is different and how everyone has their own spin on providing students with opportunities to really interact and grapple with word problems.

If you are looking for ways to help your math journals evolve, check this feature over the next few weeks as I continue to visit classrooms and find new ways that we can learn from each other and turn our math journals into a truly interactive, highly engaging teaching and learning tool:


One feature I noticed, was a wide variety of problem solving structures available to students to solve problems.  This structures is called CUBES and I found it in Kelly Czarnecki's 3rd grade math journals.  Students had it glued right into their journals and use it as a tool to help them to organize their thinking. 




Another feature which many of you utilize are highly interactive components.  These are often the more "fun" pieces, which students enjoy making and allows them to have that little bit of kinesthetic learning that many have cut out of their instruction because it is time consuming.  We have to remember that these components are still fun for students and the impact is long lasting.







Because we want to be sure that students have at least one opportunity weekly interact with complex problems, journals are the best way to give them that opportunity.  As we have seen on the Florida Assessment released items, students will be asked to complete multiple steps for one problem.  If we only use our journals for computation, our students will be unprepared for these types of problems.  Nicole Sackett and Kelly Czarnecki have students glue word problems into their math journals and students are asked to solve the problem using multiple strategies.  




Leanne Lapointe has students cut problems out of their GO MATH books and then expand their thinking in the math journals.  Now a problem which they may have just computed in their journals has turned into a whole lesson.  I wish I was there for that math conversation.




A final math journal component that I have not seen anywhere to this point is this Math Talk accountability form.  This was found in Jana Bailey's math journals.  A check means that they participated in that type of talk move during the math lesson.  I did not have the opportunity to talk to Jana about how she uses the talk move check list, but I am very interested to see how students grow as the year progresses and they become more aware of different ways to express their mathematical reasoning.

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