Children as young as kindergarten age are able to represent their mathematical ideas through writing. When I think of the many benefits to using journals in the classroom, three come instantly to mind:
Journals provide students with choice over how to represent their thinking. Children can organize their thoughts, process, and work in ways that make sense to them. The confines of a worksheet don’t often allow students to use pictures, words, or numbers in a way that demonstrates their true understanding of a concept. Journaling provides differentiation as children choose how or how much they are capable of answering.
Journals provide a wonderful, compact portfolio of growth and progress through the year. Not only do tasks become progressively complex, but the way students are able to communicate their knowledge becomes more apparent. I may see the same types of strategies used over and over at first, but as children begin to have a deeper understanding, you will see them branch out to try new ways and methods.
Journals are a great way to communicate with students and parents. Some of the most powerful and timely conferences happen when a misconception is discovered and can be addressed. And journals serve as irrefutable evidence to parents about how a child is doing with concepts and standards that need to be met.
- When students share with each other, they discover there are multiple representations or ways to solve a problem. Taking the time to periodically have them share their thinking and work with a partner, a small group, or the whole class prompts other students to try out a similar strategy.
If you aren’t already using journals, add them in as a choice to your Math Daily 3. You will find the benefits of allowing time for students to write during math.