Journaling About Place Value

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Students will be able to accurately and efficiently journal about their solution to a math situation.

Big Idea

Journaling and using the correct math terms is essential to the communication of knowledge and strategy. Today, students will attempt to model and write about their thinking in an organized manner.


10 minutes

One of my goals in math this year, due partly to the Mathematical Practices and the Common Core, is to have my students journal more accurately about their learning and understanding of concepts in order to apply and communicate their knowledge.  I use journaling often, as a means to this end. 

In this lesson, I discuss with my students reasons why they should become "communicators" of their math knowledge.  I will ask them to discuss with each other how writing a detailed journal entry with accurate vocabulary is helpful. 

After they discuss with each other, we share out as a class. I then show them two "mock" journal entries that I have pre-written, one at a time, and ask them to look through the rubric we use as a class, with their partners, and score each of my models.  

Following our rubric scoring, we discuss their reasoning and critique the math situation in order to build a vocabulary word bank on the board that they can use during their response. As we build the bank, I ask students to defend why they belong in this bank.

Next, they consider our discussion and journal about their work from yesterday, which was adding 3 digit numbers to 3 digit numbers using the expanded notation strategy.

The prompt is:

I added two three-digit numbers and got a correct answer of 748.  What might my numbers have been?  Show your strategy.  

Active Engagement

30 minutes

This is a clip of the day before, when the students were solving their work. During this phase of the lesson, it is important to have the students talk through what they are doing.  This is helpful in order to teach on the spot and for the students to organize their thinking in order to communicate it to others. 

This student works through a complicated process to create his two addends and then proves his work. Notice all of the vocabulary he uses. 

In this video, my student works hard to include a lot of vocabulary, which ends up making his communication not as informative as it could be.  In my next session, I will discuss this idea with the students and help them work to be concise. 

One of the benefits of journaling about math journaling is that students often find errors in their work while they write about their steps and their understanding.  This child found an error and was able to correct it during her response.  This is what critiquing work (MP3) is all about. 

This clip shows how I modified the lesson for a student.  I also expect the basic vocabulary for the prompt to be used, which he accomplished wonderfully!

Closing and Share

15 minutes

To close, I will remind the students that not only are the strategies they use important in math, but their communication is just as critical.  I will also alert them to the fact that we will be working and paying very close attention to journal responses. 

Then, as is our custom, the students will share their responses with a partner before we close.  The students have grown to appreciate and respond to a peer's compliments and suggestions in our math work, which is very valuable to everyone's learning.