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4 ways to use maths journals in your primary classroom

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Editor’s note: Transcript has been edited for clarity.

What does maths journaling look like in primary school? Dr Yeap Ban Har dives into four different types of maths journals and how to use them in your primary class to support children’s learning.

Journal writing is a tool for students to communicate, articulate and explicate whatever mathematical thinking has surfaced during the exploration stage of learning. Let’s look at some examples of journal writing.

1. What is a descriptive maths journal?

In a lesson where students are trying to make halves using a square piece of paper, the teacher may ask the students to show in their journals one or two ways they’ve made halves using the square piece of paper.

So I can imagine the students folding the paper, pasting whatever they have made into their journal, and perhaps even trying to write the word ‘half’ in their journal.

This is an example of journal writing that focuses on describing what we do. Sometimes we call that a descriptive journal.

2. What is an evaluative maths journal?

In a Year 6 lesson, where students are trying to find ways to share three quarters of a cake between two friends equally, the teacher may ask the students to journal about two or three methods the class has come up with during exploration. The teacher may even ask students to comment on which of the methods they feel is the best among the two or three methods they have discussed.

In this particular journal, students are expected to make some judgement, some evaluation, about which method is better than the others. This type of journal is sometimes referred to as an evaluative journal.

3. What is a creative maths journal?

In a Year 2 lesson, where students are exploring to find ways to add 25 and 3, the teacher may ask students to create stories in their journal, for the very same equation they have been trying to solve during exploration. This type of journal is sometimes referred to as a creative journal.

4. What is an investigative maths journal?

In a Year 4 lesson during exploration, students are using the digits 2, 2, 3 and 5 to create different four-digit numbers. The teacher may ask the students to record the findings of their investigation directly in their journal.

Afterwards, the teacher may invite the students to write down whatever interesting things they have noticed based on the numbers that they have created. This type of journal is referred to as an investigative journal.