Enhancing Student Number Sense

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Journaling With A Purpose

on October 5, 2012

In Math Journals this week, I asked my students to choose a number from 5-10 and draw that many fish (I had previously used fish pictures in my whole-class lesson).  I told my students that after they had their particular number of fish drawn, they would be taking it around to their classmates and asking them to count how many fish they had.  It was amazing how much effort they put into their journaling when they knew they would be required to share it.

This goes to show that giving students a purpose for completing their work tends to increase the odds that they will take it to heart and put forth a good effort.


15 responses to “Journaling With A Purpose

  1. This is a great idea! I often ask one or more students to share their entries, but have not attempted this as a whole class activity. This is someting that I will try next week. I will let you know how we make out.

    • I also think that this is a great idea! We often create something (a pattern, a creative representation of a number, number sentence), etc. and do what I like to call a “mini museum”. Students are required to put their hands behind their backs (to prevent touching the other student’s creations) and tour the classroom like you would to at paintings or art in a museum. We could do the same thing but for our journals. Thanks for sharing this great idea!- Nicole

      • mrssmithnmes says:

        I’ve done this activity to (except I didn’t have the clever name of “mini-museum”…cute!). They enjoyed that as well, but it was slightly different this time with the journals because I think they felt this was more directly related to them as indivuduals. They created it and they were themselves sharing it with people they were choosing to share it with (by directly delivering it to those people).
        What I might try next time is giving them a journaling topic and telling them that they will have an opportunity to share it with others outside the classroom…Miss Bird and her class, Mrs. Hallett, Mrs. Jones-Clark, Mrs. McLean, Mr. McInerney (our Learning Buddies Teacher), etc., etc. I wonder how this might change their perception of their work and the effort they put into it?

    • mrssmithnmes says:

      Yes, please let us know how you make out with it. I’m interested in how your grade 5’s would look at an activity of this nature. Will they be as excited as the grade 1’s were?

  2. brownnmes says:

    I also love this idea! I was going to have students journal everything they know about a number between 1 and 100 (their choice) as we begin our first number unit. I may change the question so they write and draw about the number (without printing it), and then have their other classmates figure out what the number is. This will make them accountable, as they must ensure that their picture and words are accurate, or others will not be able to correctly identify the number. It will also reflect who can accurately represent a number, and is what ways, and who needs guidance to enhance these skills. Great idea Tanya!

    • mrssmithnmes says:

      This sounds like a great activity! I find that whenever I can make an activity more game-like (where they have to “guess” what each other has drawn, etc), they seem to be so much more engaged in that particular activity. And how you’ve described your activity above sounds like a terrific way to assess and gauge who can represent a particular number and in what ways.
      Let us know how you make out with it.

      • brownnmes says:

        Tanya – I completed this journal topic last week and it went very well! The students loved sharing their answers with their classmates. One student recorded his answer using tally marks (and grouped them correctly), but recorded more marks than the actual number he had hidden under his post it. As I counted by 5’s and “guessed” his number, he realized that he hadn’t counted and recorded accurately. An interesting assessment of his own work, and a telling moment for my records as well.

  3. jasonburns2012 says:

    It goes to prove that when students are made aware of the audience that they are writing for, they not only produce high quality work, they think about who they are writing to and ensure that their work speaks to that audience.

  4. Has anyone tried “blogging” about math in the place of journals? It would make for authentic writing for an audience outside of the four walls in our classrooms.-Nicole

    • mrssmithnmes says:

      We haven’t specifically started blogging about math yet, Nicole, but we have started to tweet more about math in the last week or so.
      For example, one of our followers from another school had tweeted about how many times they could toss a ball into the air and catch it in 1 minute. So we decided as a class to try it out too. We fairly chose a student and timed that student as he tossed a tennis ball into the air for 1 minute, while we counted aloud. Then, we replied to that tweet. We had actually tied their class, so we had a tie-breaker toss and won! Great math lesson on counting (we got to count to 50) and tech lesson (tweeting and replying) all in one.
      We also tweeted a word problem to Mrs. Jones-Clark too as a reply to one of her tweets to us 🙂
      But we will try blogging about math as soon as the students are ready to begin writing their own blog posts. Which should be soon! Will let you know how we make out.

  5. triciamcgraw says:

    Great point! I had not really thought about them sharing their journals 🙂 I will try that too!!! Thanks

  6. ferntouchie says:

    I love these ideas! Journal sharing in these ways is so engaging for your students. I spoke to a primary teacher last week at another school who was frustrated with the amount of time it was taking for her students to write in their journals, even with a prompt. She was looking for a way for it to go faster. I gave her some similar suggestions to what many of you at NMES are doing in your classrooms with regards to sharing and representing what they know (video, recording, pair share, walk abouts, etc). She was concerned that they were not going to get a chance to practice their writing. I asked, what are you assessing when it comes to math journals? Are you assessing their concept understanding or their writing skill? Her response was both and I was not able to convince her otherwise. I would like to say that it is so nice to hear that this group is understanding the purpose of journal assessment in math 😉

  7. mackay74 says:

    Great idea Tanya. I often choose a few students to share their work under the Smart document camera and they love it. However, I have never done this type of whole class “mini Museum” (Love it!) I am also going to try it this week with our journaling.
    On the flip side, we do Tweet lots about what is happening during our math lessons, and when they know that their work might be the one chosen to get “Tweeted” the level of engagement is much higher. Just as Jason commented 🙂

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