If you have been kicking around my blog for awhile, you know that I am a BIG fan of using math journals for spiral review.
If you are brand new to the party, you can read more about why math journals are so great and how I fit them into my math block here and here.
I use math journals in two ways – as a spiral review activity during our whole group math block, and as “exit tickets” to cap off our small group math lessons.
But, there are LOTS of other ways that you can use math journals, too!
Here are six of my favourite ways to incorporate math journals into your daily routine:
AS A WHOLE GROUP WARM UP
As I said above, I do my math journals whole group, as a spiral review activity. We do these as a “math warm up”, before we get into a more specific warm up related to the topic that I am teaching.
It’s quick and easy, and helps make ensure that every single student is practicing and reviewing the topics and strategies that I taught all throughout the year. This gives them more time and opportunity for mastery!
DURING SMALL GROUP TIME
It’s also quick and easy to add math journals to your small group time!
You could use them as a warm up, as described above, or at the end of each rotation to see what the students in your group are able to do independently after your lesson.
When you add math journals to your small group lessons, it makes it incredibly easy to see what your students have mastered and retained, and what you will need to reteach. You can build your groups around this valuable information!
AS A MATH CENTRE
I haven’t tried this idea personally, but one of the grade one teachers at my school uses my math journals as a math centre.
My students are unable to read the prompts on their own, but if your students can do it OR if you have an aide who could read the questions out loud, why not?!
Especially if you have an aide to help out – math journal questions aren’t new teaching, and your students would be able to produce some really amazing work with someone there to help keep them focused and on track.
AS “EXIT TICKETS”
Exit tickets are a quick way for your students to show you what they learned at the end of a lesson.
At the end of your math block, you would present the question to your students.
If you are using math journals as exit tickets, you would likely want the question to pertain to what you taught that day, rather than using journals for spiral review.
Your students would work out the answer to the problem, showing their work, and you would check their answers and use that information to help guide your teaching the next day.
By using journals as exit tickets, you will quickly know if you can move on from the topic, if you need to reteach a concept to the whole class, or if you will need to build a small group of students who need some extra guidance.
This is another idea that I haven’t tried personally (because in maternelle at my school we only give reading as homework), but if you teach grade one or are expected to send homework in maternelle, I think that it would work really well!
Homework should be quick, predictable, and created with quality over quantity in mind. That means that one great math journal question would fit the bill!
Homework should also be REVIEW – no new teaching! With a collection of 30 math prompts for each month, you would easily be able to send home a problem a day that reviews a concept or a strategy that you have already taught.
The questions are short and simple, with basic vocabulary, and I think that most parents would be able to understand them enough to help guide their child in the right direction.
You also wouldn’t need to do a ton of photocopying – one page contains 20 prompts! You would just cut them apart and get your students to each glue a prompt in their journal each day, and then take them home to complete.
AS MORNING WORK
Finally, you could incorporate math journals into your morning work. The questions are simple and can generally be completed without much extra guidance, and after a couple of days, your students will be able to settle into the math journal routine very independently.
If you are doing other tasks while your students are doing morning work (like agendas, answering parent notes, etc.), you may need an aide or an older student in your room to help if your students have difficulty reading the prompt on their own.
WANT TO GIVE THEM A TRY?
As you can see from above, math journals are a valuable tool that can be incorporated into just about any part of your day. They are fantastic for spiral review, and can also be used to quickly assess your students’ understanding of a topic you are currently teaching.
I have bundles of math journal prompts for maternelle and première année in my TPT store (aka you buy them and then you print them out and you are SET for math journals from Sept-June), but if you aren’t sure they will work in your classroom, enter your info below and I will email you a FREE sample of math journal prompts from the bundles.
I will also send you a couple of emails that go into a bit more detail about spiral review, why I think you should be doing it every day, and how math journals can help you fit it in.
Math journals are one of my favourite parts of the day – I LOVE seeing how my students think and reason, and watching them work things out via drawing their thoughts.
If you give them a try, I would love to know about it! Reply to any of my emails about math journals or drop a comment below and let me know how they go for you :)