All About Math Journaling

This year I transitioned into the guided math model for my math block. The change happened in October and has been going strong ever since. It was spurred on by the fact that I have a smaller physical classroom and 24 students.

Having all my students at their math centers all at once was too chaotic for me. Even though my students were engaged and learning, the noise level and space issues were making me anxious. I kept trying it because the year prior, it worked so well for me. This year, it just would not work!

With the help of my team, I began changing my math block into a workshop model. I have shared this before HERE on my blog.

One new component of my math block is math journaling. Having students keep a math journal began when I decided to break up my math center time into different components rather than having everyone at math centers all at once.

I couldn’t be happier with the result! My student’s journals are full of all the lessons and practice from our year of guided math! There’s such a variety of different activities. The concepts have spiraled through the year and gotten progressively more advanced.

Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe in the hands-on practice and application of math centers, and my students do that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Journaling adds to hands-on practice, providing a bit of novelty and a way to shake things up.

Shake things up.

For journaling math concepts, my students have a ten-minute dedicated time window during their guided math rotations. They use this time to show what they know in our current concept or in a spiraled concept.

My students can work together at times, and they always have a buddy-check system so they can reflect, compare, and self-monitor while I am doing a guided math lesson at my teacher table.

Having an example journal finished for them (without answers) helps as a reference when they are just getting used to how these journal activities work. My students no longer need it, but at first, it was REALLY a life saver.

Example journal.

I am presenting a guided math class this week in my district! I plan to go into more depth on how I structure my math block and give options for different ages/abilities/classrooms. I will then share math journal ideas here on the blog, including the structure of my math block as well!

Students journaling

Keep in mind that the students participate in building their own journals. This adds ownership to the process and helps students build attachment to their journals.

That makes math journaling more compelling, and it incentivizes the students to keep track of and take care of their journals throughout the year.

If you are interested in trying out math journals, I have a freebie here for you. It can be done without being placed in a journal. Click this picture to download on Google Docs!

Number line
Journaling component.

We are still working through both our Winter and February Journal activities in our classroom. Plus, there are a couple more activities in my Oh for the Love of Math Centers that we still need for our journals, too!

Since November, every math center packet I have made has a journal component. This way, I know they are practicing the concept throughout the math block in many different ways. I can also look back and use the journals as a reference to track the progress for each student on an individual basis

One thing I can say for sure is that changing things up mid-year was the best thing I did. If things aren’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change it up. My students adjusted well and it gave us all something new in our day to focus on.

If you are interested in trying out math journaling, I have the following units in my store.

Math journal
Math journal

Or each month is also sold if you don’t need the bundle.

Math journaling by month.
Math journaling by month.
More math journals.

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  1. Do you teach from a math book or just use your standards and plan your daily lessons? We are required to use the math book in our planning, I use it for whole group. My math journal, math manipulative station, and teacher guided group is what I do each day. I am looking for a more fluent flow of learning for my kinders.

  2. This is awesome! I can't wait to see how you structure your math block. I want to do guided math and have some sort of system. I know it will take lots of prep time but I'm ready for the change. Once I get it worked out I know it will change my way of teaching. 🙂

  3. This week I introduced math journals to my class using your awesome February math journals packet! Things went really well and my kids really enjoyed the journal activities. I am super excited to hear more about the structure of your math block! I'm hoping to re-structure a few things in mine. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Ship Shape First Grade

  4. Wow! I love those journals! I would so love to move to a guided math type approach in my classroom! Our district was making a move in that direction and then we had an adoption change and we have gone in a different direction. I can't wait to see more on this-I want to give it a go!

  5. I have looked for your Back to School Journaling work and am wondering if you have them. I have gotten all the other necessary packs for guided math and all I need now are the journaling that matches it all. I am excited and love your blogs and work. It is easy to follow and use. Will you please help? Thanks,
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