Using Journaling to Create Lessons

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Students will respond to a journal prompt to solve a division problem.

Big Idea

The students have been working on creating equal groups in order to make sense of multiplication. Now they will use that knowledge to work "backwards" and solve division equations.


10 minutes

To begin our lesson, I ask the students to bring their math reflection journals to the community area. When they are assembled, I show them a math journal rubric and discuss the criteria for a proficient third grade mathematical entry. 

I then place different entries from my last year's class up to see if we can score them using the rubric. My intention is to have the students look for and understand what good explaining and modeling is when demonstrated in a journal entry.  If you don't have old journal responses, you may ask another teacher to borrow theirs or write up some mock entries. 

Active Engagement

20 minutes

Armed with rubrics and a word problem on the board, I send the students off to independently respond to the prompt.  As they work, I move around and confer with students on their strategies, what they are doing in their work to meet the rubric, and what they understand about division.

My ultimate goal, however, is to watch and see how students solve this problem (MP4, MP6). I am going to use this information to create groups later based on strategy. I need to know who counts out, or deals, to divide; who skip counts; and what students use know multiplication to solve division. 

The prompt is: There are 20 coins to share among 5 pirates.  How many coins will each pirate receive?

For example, this student is using his knowledge of a multiplication problem but mis-speaks.  Not until we go over the group size does he revise his communication.

This student is using a few methods.  Her drawing shows a bit of trial and error in the organization and then she began to deal out into an array, at that point she recognized she could skip count. 


10 minutes

To wrap up today's lesson, I have student volunteers share their journal for "scoring" and to take feedback from their peers on their strategy use (MP3 - Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others).  I find at times that the students will pull the conversations along based on their need to understand, so often there is a need to keep this discussion in student hands (and somewhat informal).

When students are done sharing, I review that division, like multiplication, works with equal groups and that we will be working for the next several days on activities to practice this concept.