Saturday, April 7, 2012

Math Notebooks/Journals FAQ

Here a few comments and emails (in NO particular order) that I have received about my math notebooks that I feel should be shared with all of you! Hopefully this answers all of your questions--if not, PLEASE feel free to comment or email me at froggycupcakes{at}gmail{dot}com. :)

Here are my math notebook resources for your convenience:
My TPT Store (which is not as plentiful as my TN store but has different items)

"Your math notebook is so creative and I am wondering if there is a way that I could get a copy of one to use as a guide while I set one up with my kids next year.  Is there a site to buy the printables off of? "
Thank you! Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of my entire notebook available to the public--there are several pages and ideas in it that come from our math curriculum and I dare not violate any of their rules and regulations!! I have posted several photos of my notebooks though! I also have several of my resources available for free download and for purchase.

"I want to have the notebooks full of references throughout the year; voc., examples of strategies, etc….place for them to go to look in case they have forgotten how we do certain things. I really am not sure because this is all so new to me. I have been in first grade for 21 years…what are your suggestions? Can’t wait to look at Dinah Zike’s book. Thank you so much. I love looking at your stuff."
My 4th graders struggle with correctly completing the contents of our notebooks so I can imagine what kinds of difficulties your first graders may encounter! I would really just recommend simplifying as much as you can for those little ones! It may be a good idea to provide templates for them, especially for the table of contents.  Also, check out my posts about getting notebooks set up to use! Follow the link provided at the top of this post.

"Do you have your kids keep their notebooks in their desk? I have been using my notebooks like you this year and I find they are getting really stuffed. It is making me wonder if I should switch to notebooks next year."
I have tables instead of desks in my room so my students' notebooks and folders are kept in drawers underneath each table. (You can see one of the drawer towers in the picture below.) I have three classes so each drawer tower has three drawers and is placed at the end of the table. This has worked very well this school year! We clean out notebooks and drawers on a regular basis to avoid them getting cluttered.

"thank you soooooo very much for sharing your setup and your thinking on math notebooks. i am trying this for the first time for the last semester of the school year so i can have it figured out and ready to go at the beginning of the new school year...which will hopefully be in a new grade as well!!!"
Thank you!! And I hope your implementation is going well! I also like to try all sorts of ideas at the end of the year to use in the following year--it's nice to have a test run to work out all of the kinks! :)

"do you have students do any guided practice, independent practice, or homework in their math notebook? if so, how do you incorporate this in your notebook? (i want students to have a few examples to help them with homework and for studying tests...but i also want to kind of maintain the instruction on left side and student work on right side idea...)"
YES! I like for students to have examples to refer to as well! I haven't posted photos of these pages because some of them are so boooooring because it is basically a page with a few solved problems. Some of the pages we do practice on have step-by-step instructions for solving problems that my students have written themselves--this helps them internalize the information. Some of theses example pages are actually a piece of colored piece of paper glued in (which could be labeled "examples") to add a little life to it.

"Thanks for sharing! I have started a science notebook for my 4th grade students, and your tips are really helpful. One thing that still has me baffled is the table of contents. What do you do when you want to add an extra page in the notebook, but you've already created the table of contents?"
I actually haven't encountered this problem yet only because we complete our entire unit (of related content) and then enter it into the table of contents. The kids enjoy going back and reflecting upon all they have done in a unit when we spend time looking at the pages we have completed and log them into the table of contents. So far, we haven't had to go back and add in anything. You may want to have a section of your notebook dedicated to these "miscellaneous" pages.

"I LOVE THIS IDEA! I'm trying it already. I have an EIP classroom, and these could be a HUGE benefit for my kids! However, how do you monitor that only what you want goes in the notebook? I could have cried Friday when I saw a kid doo dahing in theirs! HELP!"
Ahhhh!! I can understand that frustration!!! This is why I go over and have the kids sign the math journal guidelines page when we initially set the notebooks up. This has worked well for me because it has held them accountable in treating their journals properly. I have had very few problems.

"Can you give me some specifics on how you set this up? I would LOVE to do something like this!!"
I have a few posts about setting up notebooks! Check out the links at the beginning of this post.

"I really like this idea. Do you have a specific place where you print off all the great printables?"
I make most of the printables and get the rest from my school's curriculum. I have made available several of the ones that I created in my Teachers Notebook store. More are coming soon!!

Thanks for tuning in!! Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments. :)


  1. ohmagoodness, this is a fantastic post, thank you for all of this info!

    On a side note, I LOVE your classroom setup! I am going from desks to tables and have been a little worried, but this picture gets me excited again, especially bc you are an upper-elem teacher :)

    So thanks for all of this helpfulness- I am pinning away right now!

    3rd Grade Thoughts

    1. Maybe I should have posted a better picture then! This pic is from summer set-up!! :)

      I absolutely LOVE my tables!! This is my first year with them. My students really love them too! We do a lot of group discussion and activities and having them at tables makes that very easy. I also cannot stand the junk and clutter desks cause so tables also work well for my sanity!!

      Thanks for your sweet comments!

  2. FANTASTIC! Thank-you for being my inspiration to start math journals this year. My students LOVE them, and I LOVE that they LOVE them!

    Runde's Room

    1. Thanks, Jen!!! I have SO enjoyed your Math Journal Sunday posts!!

  3. This is amazing!! I have pinned it, starred it, bookmarked it...anything else I can think of. Love it.
    Thinking of Teaching

  4. Thank you for the great ideas. I teach 5th grade and I am very excited about starting math notebooks this upcoming year. I think it will be very helpful for those kids who struggle.