I don't know if this is what you are thinking, 1234513, but this is how I use math journals in my 3 math classes.

I provide a journal to each student at the beginning of the year. It is only to be used for their math "notes." It is a required material that has to come to class with them each day. They do the review and/or problem solving problems on the board for the day as I check homework. When we are working on a lesson students take notes as we go over the material (on the board or a PowerPoint). I have them highlight or underline the vocabulary. We then do several sample problems where a selected group of students come to the board to work each problem and the others are doing the problems in their journals. I am very particular about my students showing all their steps, so they usually have between 4-8 good examples to use while doing their homework.

I have found that the journals not only help the students when doing their homework, but it helps the parents, too. Many parents have not had this kind of math in years, if ever (standards have changed so much). Often if a student comes to me before class stating they do not understand their homework, they did not take home their math journal to help them. I will have them get out their journal and try the homework, and they can usually figure it out!

I have been doing journals this way for 4 years. It has worked for me and the students I teach. At the beginning of the year I send home a letter to the parents explaining the journal and they should see it home each evening. I will sometimes let the students use their journals on quizzes. The students that take notes neatly do well. Hope this helps.

What kind of notebook do you provide for the students? I have tried loose leaf in binders, but that gets lost and I have tried spiral notebooks, but those fill up so fast. I love your idea, just trying to figure out how to make it work for my three groups of 6th graders?

I provide my students with their first notebook. I typically get the 70 sheet wide-ruled notebook at Walmart (the cheap ones). I put a label on the front (I am attaching the label~compatible with Avery 5160). I also put their name on a label. This way they know this notebook is ONLY for math notes, not extra paper for homework etc.

I also model how we do not skip pages, we use the back of the pages, and we only skip a few lines between lessons. The students who take this seriously, which is the majority, usually need a new notebook about 3/4 through the school year. I just tell them to get a new notebook and I will provide them with new labels, if they want. Since this is a required material in my class, they usually show up with a replacement. If it is a struggle I may give them another one or give them a folder and tell them to put their notes in it.

I couldn't decide whether I wanted to use folders or spiral notebooks this year, and you helped me decide on spirals. Thenk you so much for including the labels. I will use your ideas and your labels!

I teach 4th grade and I require a notebook for notes and a composition type book for problem solving. I think that keeping the items separate is helpful when they need to look back to see how I instructed them to do a problem.

They keep their messy computations far away from their notes this way

I teach a self-contained sixth grade in an elementary school. The publisher of our math text kind of gave us recommendations as to how to set up student notebooks. I use their suggestions but adjust them to my needs:

I ask the kids to get a binder with at least five dividers. Sections include: 1. Forms (for handouts they need all year; our xerox machine three hole punches papers so they slip right in the binders); 2. Journal (for math prompts, notes taken during hands-on activities, notes from group work / discussions, self-evaluations, etc); 3. Vocabulary (words, defs, illustrations); 4. Classwork / Homework; 5. Assessments (copy of all tests, quizzes, projects). The sixth section is their text (which is thin like a workbook and is kept in binder at all times).

This system has worked for me for the past few years, but takes time to teach and model. I also had help from a special ed para during setup of notebooks.

This year, I'm trying some new things with the notebooks:

~I'll spot check a section of students' notebooks at random points in the marking
period. Using rubrics the kids and I develop together, I can take quick notebook grades.

~Many teachers write the focus or the essential question on the board when they
start a lesson to set the learning purpose. I intend to have kids write the focus
question in their journals at the beginning of each lesson or unit. At the end of the
lesson, they will attempt to answer the focus question. In this way they will be
summarizing the lesson, giving the most important points, monitoring comprhension,
etc. (integrating reading strategies here). Also, I can get an idea of who "got it" and
who still needs assistance.

~I went to a PD session on using math centers. I may use them periodically. I'll have
kids use a section of their journals to record their progress/new learning/strategies
discovered at centers.

I attached the notebook organizer I have kids keep all year. Hope this helps someone.

I am excited to hear about other teachers using journals in math. We use a composition book and we call it our math journal. I begin the year with draw a mathematician. Most students draw a man so an interesting lesson is presented about famous women mathematicians. We discuss that mathematicians use journals to record data, make drawing, to ask question, and many other activities. So our approach is making your journal yours and making a commitment. We discuss rules and the students sign. (attached) We glue this page on the inside cover.

Then I let the students decorate the cover and first page. We use colored paper, stickers, etc. We save 6 pages to use for Table of Contents. I explain that each of use write differently so you must keep up with the Table of Contents and what page you are on.

We glue everything in our journal. Notes, vocabulary, powerpoint slides or notes. I use Dinah Zike's foldables so our journals are very colorful and fun!

This is fantastic! I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate all of these ideas and have done some but you have pulled it all together very nicely! It sounds like you do Math Investigations. I do as well! I was wondering if you have a primary source that you use for your centers? This is my first year piloting this program.