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Monday, September 9, 2013

Interactive Math Journals: Number Properties

Number Properties:  The four properties we focused on were Identity Property, Commutative Property, Associative Property, and Distributive Property.  Since we use both the addition and multiplication properties, we used a sticky note to label the property and then folded it up to write a numerical example, an algebraic example, and a definition for both addition and multiplication.  

To assist students in remember the difference, we talked about what each of the words mean.  I asked for examples of what an identity was.  We talked about being able to look in a mirror and see ourselves, exactly as we are.  We related this to adding with zero and multiplying with one - the number doesn't change who it is. 

For the Commutative Property, we discussed what the word 'commute' means.  We looked up the definition in the dictionary and discovered that it meant to travel regularly back and forth.  I gave the example of driving my car back and forth to work daily.  

For the Associative Property, we discussed the word 'associate'.  We again used the dictionary to find the definition of the word.  It means to group together.  I gave them examples of a team grouping together, or joining up with different groups of friends.

Finally, for the Distributive Property, we discussed the word 'distribute'.  We looked up the word in the dictionary and discovered that it means to hand something out.  I gave them examples of handing papers out, or 'distributing' papers.  

To tie these examples into our properties, students found pictures of a mirror, a car, a team, and a hand, handing something out, to add to our journals.
[Math Properties]
[Underneath the sticky notes]

Interactive Math Journals: Number Forms

Number Forms:  Nebraska standards stress standard, expanded, and word (written) form for numbers.  To help students differentiate these forms, we used sticky notes to write each form out.

To help understand expanded form, we cut 3 sticky notes into 1" vertical strips [make sure there's sticky on the ends].  Stick them down with the sticky on the right.  Write the value of each number on each strip, lining them up so the digit shows, but the zeros are hidden.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interactive Math Journals: Introduction

I have thrown myself into several brand new projects this year in class.  One of them is my interactive math journals.  I have to give a huge shout-out to for all of the excellent ideas!  I purchased her guide from and am using it as a guide and inspiration as I dive head first into this project.  

Since I teach grades 3rd-7th Math and Algebra, I will post the journals by topic rather than grade.  

Following format for journals, I use the left side/right side method for the journals.  The left side is always student thinking and reflection.  The right side is completed in class and is always my words.

To start the journals, I had students create a table of contents.  This is where the title of each entry is listed, along with the page it appears on.  

Each entry is then given the same title on the top of the page that is found in the table of contents.  I then have students write down a learning goal.  On the right side, the learning goal is in my words (I tend to use the objective from their book or from their standards.)  On the left side, they have to put the learning goal in their own words.  After they have their learning goal written, they then have to write down what they already know about that topic.  

We then complete the concept on the right side of the page.  After we complete the concept and have worked with the concept in class, I direct them back to their journals to complete the left side of the page.  They then have to complete 'What I Learned,' 'Proof' [a problem and its solution w/ and explanation], and a 'Reflection' [which can be virtually anything as long as it reflects their learning].

To grade the journals, I am using a rubric written by from her Interactive Math Journals Guide that I purchased from

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Minion Madness Continues ...

As much as I am trying to desperately keep up with this thing called blogging, it appears that I am currently failing miserably.  We just started week three of the school year and I am still scrabbling to get things accomplished!  I wanted to post a few more pictures of the Minion Madness that is continuing in and around my classroom.  I Googled a few Minions, blew them up and printed them to make locker signs for my 4th graders.  I had them cut their minion of choice out & glue it on card-stock.  I then laminated the minions & wrote each students name on them.  For a couple of our bulletin boards, I cut out the phrase "CPS Patriots are One in a Minion" and "Minion Mischief."  On the first said bulletin board, we have first-day-of-school snapshots posted.  For the latter bulletin board, I am creating a school wide seek-and-find for a minion.  I'm planning on taking the minion's picture in various spots around the school & having students guess where he is.  More posts on that down the road.  

Locker Signs

"One in a Minion"

"Minion Mischief"