We use journals as a part of small group instruction in our classroom. Specifically, to cover problem-solving in math. There are many ways to demonstrate problem-solving but one way I love is to use math journals.
Math journals can be used as a diagnostic, formative or summative assessment. Journals are simple, easy, and kids can represent their ideas with pictures, numbers, and words. And if they cannot do that I can scribe for them!
Whenever possible, I always try to provide hands-on manipulatives for students to hold and manipulate while writing journals. This allows their learning experiences to be more meaningful and students can draw what they know afterward. Not all students choose to use them, but offering manipulatives is extremely important to learning math concepts!
Mental math, representing numbers, ten frames, printing numbers, and even math talk concepts can all be represented through journals! Addition, subtraction and even word problems are perfect concepts to be used as a journal as it allows students to represent what they know in a way that they can show it!
Graphing & Patterning
I use journals for engaging graphing activities, especially for students who need visual prompts to keep them focused and for students who cannot draw or write! They still can engage in meaningful graphing activities but do not need to be stressed by their limited fine motor skills. Students often can create their own patterns. Many young children cannot manipulate writing materials enough to feel successful. By providing real-life objects for them to color, students can quickly demonstrate their knowledge!
Sizes & Shapes
Cut and paste activities allow students to demonstrate their understanding of big and small while also supporting their fine motor development! Students can tally and/or color the number of shapes presented to them to show their answers. It is so simple and easy to differentiate!
If you’re interested in checking out the journal prompts that I use, click here or on the image below. I love this set as it does not use a lot of ink and I can quickly run off a class set without using a lot of paper for my classroom!