Math Journaling: A Way to Make Math Make Sense
A presentation for the National Middle School Association Annual Conference 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011, 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Math journaling at its best! We will create a math journal with you while doing hands-on, minds-on lessons that you can take with you. Not only will we show you the traditional journaling methods, but we will explore digital journals as well. We will also show you how to make this work in your classroom. Math journals is a great way to incorporate more writing across the curriculum. What could your students create if given the opportunity?

Math Out of the Box

Math Out of the Box is a curriculum developed by Clemson University and published by Carolina Biological Supply Company.
Writing in the Mathematics Class
"Writing allows students to reflect on their own understanding. Math Out of the Box lessons provide engaging materials, compelling problems, and the freedom to take risks so that written communication can occur and develop. In the lessons, the teacher provides a model for writing before small groups or individual students are held accountable for expressing mathematical thinking in writing. Math Out of the Box uses writing in mathematics to
  • reinforce important skills central to both writing and problem-solving, such as brainstorming, analyzing, clarifying, and revising.
  • provide a tool for both summative and formative assessment, fostering equity for all students.
  • make connections between disparate mathematical ideas and concepts.
  • provide a context for language for diverse learners with language gaps and for children for whom English is a second language.
Math Out of the Box encourages successful writing by
  • giving students an opportunity to say their thought aloud before putting them in writing.
  • displaying a mathematics word bank of often-used words.
  • recording thoughts for students who have writing disabilities and encouraging them to read their words aloud.
The Bright Idea Marker and the Bright Idea Pen are special tools used to ensure and to reinforce that writing is not the end of thinking but is part of an ongoing thought process. The marker and pen are used to add to or change ideas in whole-class and student writing."
From teacher's guide module A, Values and Variables

"Suggestions for supporting students who may have difficulties with writing in math class include the following:
Give students an opportunity to say their thoughts aloud before putting them in writing.
Write requested words on the board.
Display a word bank of often-used words.
Record the thoughts of students who have writing disabilities and encourage them to read their words back to you."
Tools and Time, page 24


Journal Response Three Quarter Book Foldable

Websites with Foldable Instructions


Marilyn Burns - 10 Big Ideas

eThemes Math Journal resources

The Cornerstone

Digital Journaling

Chris Harbeck, 8th grade teacher
Making it Interesting
Mr. Harbeck's blog about teaching

Sargent Park Math Zone
The blog hub for his classes where he posts assignments

Room 817
One of his class blogs where students are posting regularly about what they are learning.

Common Core State Standards