Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop- Math Journals!

Happy Sunday to you!  I really hope you are enjoying this Bright Ideas Blog Hop- I know I am!!  Loving all these amazing ideas!!  Thanks for hopping over from Hilary's awesome post!

Today, I am sharing a few ideas on how I do Math Journals with my class.  Do you use Math Journals?

I teach first grade and we have a 90 minute math block.  I start with a short whole group lesson, sometimes including some hands-on exploration and sometimes including a Brain Pop Jr video, and then we go into our Math Journals and Math Centers.  Those are the activities my students are doing while I am pulling my small groups to do my Guided Math lessons.

Our Math Journals have 4 boxes, as you can see in this picture below.

I write the journal entry and put it up on the projector for the whole class to see.  They each have their own Math Journal to work in.

My students know that they have to come show me their completed journal entry before they can go get their Math Center tub.  I do a quick visual check and point out any big issues that need to be corrected, if necessary.  After Center time, we check the entire journal as a class.  I truly love this system for many reasons.  It lets them work at their own pace.  My table groups are mixed ability, so there is always someone available to help if they need it.  Additionally, while everyone is working on their journal, it is SO QUIET!  Once they start moving into Centers, it gets a little louder, but I have no problem with that!  I occasionally have to ask them to bring it down a bit, but as long as I can see that they are working- I'm a happy teacher!

Now, this is what our journal looks like at this point in the year- at the beginning of the year, we start off with just the top two boxes and we fill them in together.   Then, as the year goes on, I start adding more content, leaving things off and the kids have to build the whole thing with what's there and with what's missing.

Here's the basic breakdown for each box-
Box 1- calendar
Box 2- number of the day
Box 3 and 4- current topics and spiral review

I'll end my post with some more picture of each box, please feel free to comment with any questions you have- or to share how you do Math Journals in your classroom!!  I'd love to hear from you!!

If you are looking for more great ideas, please hop on over to Seconds At The Beach to read Elizabeth's great post about taking learning outside!! 

Don't forget, you can also visit the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

p.s. Bloggers love to read your comments, so please leave lots of love along the way, especially if you loved the ideas you picked up!  Thank you for your support!


  1. Super idea for math journals. I love the 4 box model and used it years ago. It is crazy how things come full circle. I am reworking my math block and want to incorporate math journals. I was worried about copies, but this is the perfect solution:)

    The Resourceful Apple

    1. Hey Tammy! It's funny how things cycle back into use, right? My cooperating teacher used 4 boxes for her daily journals and I've been using it ever since! That was almost 10 years ago and I've tweaked it a little as the years go by, and I've found that the journal/center system really works for me!

      Katie :)

  2. Love this way to use notebooks!!! I'm jealous of a 90 mn math block!!!!
    Smiles - Lisa

  3. Thank you for sharing my link :-)
    I do something very similar for math review. The set-up is almost exactly the same! It was great reading how you use this in the classroom. It gave me a great idea for next year!

    Thank you!,
    Seconds at the Beach

  4. Katie I love your math notebooks! I wish I had a projector and I would so do this as well for my kindergartners... :) What a great teacher you are!

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  6. I really love this idea! I want to give it to my boyfriend as a gift, we’ve always loved exchanging letters. I just need some ideas on how to make the first entry. I’m thinking about a letter, maybe explaining what it is?

    mp3 download

  7. Thanks for the great ideas about math journals. Do your students copy everything exactly the way it is projected or do they only write the answers where there is yellow highlighter?

    1. Hello there! Yes, I ask my students to write everything that is up there onto their journals. I started using the yellow highlighter two years ago when I had a little friend who only wrote what I wrote and didn't fill in any of the answers! The yellow highlighter helped him see what was missing. It's also helpful when we are starting a new section of the journal towards the beginning of the year. They get really good at it though, and by the end of the year, most of them could fill out at least the first two boxes without even looking!

      Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!
      Katie :)

  8. Hi there, I love this idea and do something very similar. Just wanted to know how you check them as they finish. Do they come back to your table? I have done this before and then seem to get a long line of kids which then disrupts the group I am with. Also, do you use any type of math curriculm worksheets as week each day, or is this the only math paper they are complete info before going to centers? Thanks so much!