Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: 4 Reasons to Include Math Journals in Your Classroom

4 Reasons to Include Math Journals in Your Classroom

Open ended constructed response math journal prompts ask students to think deeper and explain their thinking!

Math is my absolute favorite subject to teach and I have always had very high expectations of myself and my students.

I don't think it is enough to just memorize a trick or song to solve a math problem. It just doesn't show a deep understanding.

Students should be expected to explain their mathematical thinking! 

Word problems for your math journals

What better way to incorporate this into your classroom than using math journals. Math journal prompts are open ended questions that ask students to explain their strategy or defend their answer.

Math journals can be a great tool for teachers in the classroom and, after students are taught how to correctly use them, they have several benefits.

Math journals show a deeper understanding of math content. 

Students are expected to organize their thinking and write about how they solve mathematical problems. When students are required to write out their steps, they are reviewing and checking their work. They are building a deeper understanding because they aren't just memorizing steps. This is a great reflection and self-assessment opportunity for students.  

Math journals help teachers identify misconceptions. 

Reading through your students' math journals is a great way to discover what misconceptions your students have and reevaluate your instruction for them. If students don't have a clear understanding of the concept, it becomes evident as you read their steps for how they problem solved. 

This becomes a great tool to use for differentiation and reteaching in your small groups.

Math journals incorporate multiple subjects at once.

Giving students the opportunity to write across several subjects is so important. Students learn how to write a specific genre in writing workshop and how to write when responding to written text in reading. They also should write about their mathematical thinking and problem solving strategies. 

Math journals are an excellent way to get extra writing practice in. When you are requiring complete and correct sentence structure, you are working on writing skills. When they explain their thinking, they are working on using evidence to prove their answer. When you require your students to reread their answers, they are working on their fluency. When you require students to check their work for correct spelling and grammar, you are working on editing skills. 

Math journals can be used with any curriculum.

Math journals can be used as a supplement to any curriculum! You can pick and choose the concepts and skills that match your current unit of study. I used Eureka curriculum and I taught students some unique strategies. I could still use open-ended journal prompts because it allows students to use ANY strategy that they want.

Math journal prompts can be used so many different ways that I am certain it can be fit in with any curriculum:
  • Morning Work
  • Math Warm Up
  • Center
  • Small Group
  • Test Prep
  • Exit Ticket
  • Homework
  • Early Finisher

I like to use a little combination of all of the above, but warm up and exit ticket are my favorite uses!

Once math journals become routine, you will find that these are a great resource in your classroom. 

Good news for third grade teachers!

My third grade math journal was one of the very first resources that I ever created for teachers. It was a hit from the start. But over the years, I have learned a few things (and gained a few wrinkles). I have been listening to my teacher buddies and I decided that the math journal needed MORE!
As of today, my 3rd grade math journal resource now includes three formats for each of the 100 prompts!

  1. ​Full Page: Perfect to bind into a book or use as an assessment
  2. Strips: Great way to save paper since students are just gluing a small strip in their notebook.
  3. PowerPoint: It's no prep! You just display the prompt and students can respond in their notebook. You could even download the resource into Google Classroom. 

I even made the full page prompts and the PowerPoint prompts editable so that you can add additional problems if you choose!
PLUS, I added an answer key and some tips to implement math journaling into your classroom!
Click HERE to check out the third grade math journal.

Do I have other grade levels of this resource?
Yes and no. I have the old version for 2nd4th and 5th grades. They are so embarrassing that it's hard for me to even give you a link. The good news is that I will be updating these to include the multiple formats and answer keys very soon! I promise! 
Open ended constructed response math journal prompts ask students to think deeper and explain their thinking!

Have a Not So Wimpy day!