As I reflected this summer about my math journals, I realized they had really become a math problem solving journal. I had gotten away from student reflection, quick writes, and questioning that were once part of my math journals. I wanted to make some changes and started tweeting with my friend Kassia, @kassiaowedekind as our conversation progressed another friend Kristin, @MathMinds joined in and our conversation went with how to set up the math journal.
Kristin shared she has spiral and composition notebooks, she wants the students to have choice and to quote our tweet - "I just really wanted them to own it and not have the journal be something they saw as something they did for me."
I instantly thought about setting up writer's notebooks and how we let students decorate them for ownership. I then thought I could do this for our math journals! It's important to show student's how numbers are used daily and to make connections between them and numbers in our world. I knew over the years I had done a lesson maybe called Numbers and Me and started looking through a few resources.
In Minilessons for Math Practice, Grades K - 2 (intermediate friends there is a version for you) by Rusty Bresser and Caren Holtzman there's a lesson called Fit the Facts which was the perfect entry point for personalizing our math journals. I didn't want my young students just grasping at numbers to use and wanted them to have some preplanned options. Fit the Facts really helps students think about the reasonableness of numbers in context. For homework, the students found out numbers for their age, grade, address, height, miles away from school, favorite number, siblings, and pets. The goal for the class discussion for each student is to offer a student's numbers only, read them and then try to reason the best one for each sentence.
After discussing three student's Fit the Fact information I modeled ways students could pick 3 - 5 ideas from their homework to use to illustrate the front cover of their math journal. I also shared they could add one or two new ideas they have for numbers in their lives. It was so fun to watch their excitement as they personalized their journal covers and thought about numbers in a fun personal way.
Minilessons for Math Practice is great resource from the Math Solutions group.