“Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.” By Carl Sandburg
I have always used math notebooks in my classroom and this year one of my goals is to try to get our teachers (in all grade levels) at my school to realize the importance of them in the classroom. To me a math notebook is a place in which students record their math work, thinking and reasoning. I tell my students that their parents should be able to pick up their math notebook and know everything they did in class that day. Here is why I think math notebooking is important in the classroom:
1. We need to teach students how to organize information and notebooking makes this easy. Modeling in the beginning of the year with your students and setting high expectations is key. I made my students date every lesson and give it a title based on our objective for the date; it is how we started every math lesson. With a rubric you can grade these weekly as a classwork grade and the student always know what is expected of them. Here is the rubric I use: Math Notebook Rubric
2. I think notebooking, no matter what subject, is an important 21st century skill. (See previous post on science notebooking) When students are using math notebooks they have to communicate/articulate what they are learning. This makes the students critically think more about the why behind math and not just the process, which is what the common core is all about.
3. Math Notebooks embrace all 8 Standards for Mathematical Practice of the Common Core, which helps prepare students to be math practitioners along with getting the students college and career ready. Vocabulary is also an important piece of the Common Core; having students keep vocabulary in their math notebooks is essential for helping students understand math concepts.
4. Integrating writing in the content area is important. Students reflecting through journal prompts is a great way to do this. Many of my exit slips, I also called it writing out of math, were based on journal prompts where the student had to reflect on their work. For example, how did todays math lesson connect to the real world? Explain. Or When it comes to math I find it difficult to…. This always helped me as the teacher see if my lessons were successful according to the students and also what I needed to review based on their needs.
5. Math Notebooking is great for all learners because they should not be just about notes from the teacher but also conclusions the students draw that help them learn. For example: The students that are visual learner can draw pictures to help them understand the math concept or students that are musical can write songs/raps etc.
Math notebooks are going to look different in every grade level. In Kindergarten they can be writing story problems using pictures and words such as 5 apples + 2 apples = 8 apples, with a picture representation of their thinking. Where in 5th grade they would also be using words and pictures to represent their thinking but it would be in paragraph form.
I would love to hear why others think math notebooking is important or if you have any ideas to add. If you are not notebooking in your classroom, I hope you try it this year and see the difference in your students learning and understanding.