Recording their thinking in a math journal can be overwhelming for emerging writers. How will they read prompts, write responses, and communicate their thinking if they are still learning the basics of letter formation and sight words? Despite the obvious challenges, math writing is beneficial because it encourages children to review math concepts, helps them think carefully about their processes, and helps to cement learning.
The math journals I use in kindergarten are similar to those I use with more experienced writers. A few adaptations help me meet my students where they are and provide the necessary supports to take them to the next level.
My kindergarten journals include the following sections:
- My Strategies: Students copy a problem we did together from the math chart. They explain it to a friend, explain it to me one-on-one, or share it during share time.
Math Vocabulary: Students copy the word from our math word wall and draw a picture to go with the word.
Having a math word wall or a word bank for students to use is a helpful support for emergent writers.
- My Thinking: Laminate a stack of pictures (real photos of the class, old calendars, and illustrations from popular children's literature). Students select one and draw a problem to go with the picture. To explain it, they use a number sentence/sentence frame, discuss it during sharing or conferring, or do the best they can to write the problem out.
- My Learning: This is where my younger students practice their number and shape writing, as well as problem solving.
My students love math writing. They enjoy creating, drawing, and solving problems. More important, they are becoming more skilled at explaining their thinking.