Math Journaling....An Important Part of the Day

 Hey y'all!! About 4 years ago, I realized that my kids needed more practice with problem solving and they needed a longer amount of time to do it.  I also realized that I wanted them to be stronger communicators in order to deepen their understanding of the concepts.  I decided to introduce math journaling into my math block.  I wasn't sure at first how this was going to go, but I will say now that I would never teach math with out the component of math journaling.  When I talk with other teachers, they too feel like introducing math journaling in their daily routine has built strong foundations in their students' number sense.
Each morning, my kids come in and immediately get started on math journal.  They'll work for about 30 minutes in their journal.  It's my favorite part of the day!!! Whether you choose to purchase a math journal or just have your students do story problem solving with some deep analyzing, it's the purposeful thinking they carry out in this process that really grows dendrites.  

During journal we play classical music in the room. I find this helps set the tone for the work that needs to be done and it promotes that deep thinking. My favorite part of math journaling from a planning point, is that you already know your kids are doing for morning work.  There is nothing worse than having to plan something new for morning work every single day!
As I started liking math journal more and more, I began to see that there were 4 areas of need to focus in on.  Students needed a deeper understanding of problem solving in a story problem.  I don't know about y'all, but when I was in elementary school and the teacher said word problems, you could bet there was a long sigh from the whole class. I didn't want that for my kids.  I find that math journals promotes... deep thinking..... structured conversation...... risk taking.....and a love of math. 
Each day when my students come into the classroom, they immediately begin math journal.  Our journal is comprised of four components. 
1. Number of the Day- This is a safe place for students to take ownership of thinking deeply. They can be comfortable taking risks using numbers.  Students are writing and creating ways to make a given number.  
Y'all it's sometimes so amazing the things they come up with. One day our number was 47 and this is what one student came up with.  1,000- 200- 200- 200- 100- 100- 50- 50- 30- 20- 3= 47 It was amazing! The greatest part of this was when this child shared out during journal check, the other student were just as amazed and they started taking risks like that in the following days.  
2. Thinking about numbers- I wanted my students to have a deep understanding of number sense. In thinking about numbers, students have a focused problem to help build a strong sense in numbers.  
3. Story Problems- This is where students get to analyze and think deeply about problem solving. Students 
4. Daily Data- This is where I thought my teaching really lacked.  I didn't like the idea of only doing a unit on data for two weeks out of the school year.  In this journal, students work with a new set of data each week.  They use an interactive graph for the entire week. The data is generated by the students each Monday. 

This graph was so fun y'all!  You wouldn't believe how difficult it was for the boys to pick a favorite.  

 All I did to create these graphs was take put that cute patterned duck tape on a poster board.  You can have your students write their name on a post it or use their picture and velcro each week.

Here is a little sample to download of the math journals we do each day in our class. Sample Click

If you like it, you can check out the math journals in my store.  The graphs are included in the journals as well.