Math Notebooks: Pink?

Pink is my favorite color!

Not really.

That’s a song reference –
I realized it might be obscure enough to lose most people.

I like pink, but only sometimes.
I have issues choosing a favorite color, because I’m very moody.
Right now, I think it’s green,
but that’s probably because I’m Spring Crazy and I can’t wait for nicer weather.
I love the first month of every season.
The next two are just superfluous and make me appreciate the next season even more.

Anyway, pink isn’t my favorite color. I just use a lot of it during math. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Math Notebooks.
I love them
but when I say math notebooks, I mean something different than my school is wanting.

This is the way my school is making has asked me to use them this year.
On the right side, we have “Input”. This is INformation that goes INto the notebook (and hopefully, the student). On the left side, we have “Output”. This is where the student (hopefully) demonstrates that he or she has processed the information and uses it to do something.

It’s similar to our science notebooks, which also follow the input/output format.

These are a few ways I’ve used my notebooks this year.

This is an entry about comparing numbers. On the input side, we wrote directions on how to compare numbers and made a simple foldable to help kids remember the symbols.
Why is the foldable pink?
To help kids remember this standard belongs in objective one (Number Concepts), which is also color coded pink.
Why do kids have to remember that objective one is pink?
“So next year, they’ll remember that the number concepts in objective one are pink.”
Why is this important?

No one knows.

Sorry it’s sideways.

This is a sample of our place value entry.
Input: identifying the different components of the place value chart, as well as important place value vocabulary. 

 Output: Using a foldable to write a number on the place value chart, in words, and on the inside… 

 Expanded notation! Also known as one of the most difficult ideas ever. As you can tell by the foldable, this student struggled with naming the number in words. However, he did correct the expanded notation on the inside.
Simple way to assess, huh!

This is our entry about number lines. This should be yellow, because geometry and spatial reasoning is supposed to be yellow.
Why is the sentence strip pink?
Because I only had pink sentence strips.
Input: Identifying what a number line is and does. Also an awesome pull-out-able, expandable number line.
Output: Uses of number lines in everyday life, such as thermometers, rounding, bar graphs, and map scales.

Wooo fancy. 

However, I am still not crazy about this.
The way that I’ve used them in the past
which totally worked for me
is WAY more open-ended.
We put in information about new concepts
but mostly, we write about what we’re thinking in math.
Things like
“I am understanding…”
“One way to solve this problem…”
“I am still confused about…”
“I used to think…but now I know…”
It provided an opportunity for students to identify areas of strength, compare different ways of solving a problem, and 
most important to me
write about their thinking.
We learn so much more from explaining our thinking
than we do from doing the thinking in the first place.
If we can teach it,
we know it.
I know that I was no slouch in high school or college
when it came to math.
But I really really really understood the ideas of adding, subtracting, and manipulating fractions
when I had to teach it.
I had to understand it several levels deeper.
Combine this with the complex idea that is writing
working within a grammatical structure
making sure your ideas make sense
describing explicitly
and suddenly, your ideas are taking a form that helps them make sense
even to the most struggling math student.
This kind of self-reflective writing really changed the way my kids thought about math – 
as something to grow in, play with, and understand rather than just know and do.
So I’ve tried out this input/output business
as it was presented,
but I prefer less structured experiences,
and I’m going to start that again soon.
But, in case one of the samples helps you out 
(there are benefits to this kind of notebook – it’s just different than the other kind
and their are components of the two that are similar or overlap)
I wanted to share them.
Sometimes kids just need a place
to record what’s what.
But, when I do more of those kinds of responses
which I like better for my purposes,
I will share them, too.

 Question Time!
 (You have to say this in a really excited voice, like you’re singing a fun song from the 70s.)

1. What do you do to have students write about math?
2. Do you use input/output notebooks?

Happy Notebooking!


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  1. Thanks for sharing what you do! Love the foldables πŸ™‚

    This year, I am not doing what I want to… just didn't have the thoughts together at the time and now it's too late! But I am dreaming up what it is that I will do NEXT year (by the way, I teach 2nd).

    I plan to do a binder with my students (I know they are expensive but I think it'll be worth it)!

    Three sections – Calendar Journal, Math Notes & Thinking about Math
    Calendar Journal is basically the calendar procedures that I do with my students but instead of being an oral practice, it will be written by every student. I currently do JUST a calendar journal with my kiddos – we practice the number of the day (place value, number grid puzzles, addition and subtraction, base ten blocks, multiplication, money, etc).
    Math Notes are a collection of foldables, definitions, guided practice and mnemonic devices that we use.
    Thinking about Math is that section we will use to write about our thoughts, our sucesses and struggles, any connections we can find.

    Any way… that's my dream πŸ™‚

  2. Interesting…we don't have math "notebooks." We have our student math journals that are actually like workbooks. Many times they stay in their cubbies because the worksheets and lessons are completely unengaging so I create my own.

  3. We use our notebooks to keep their thinking about that days lessons and their vocabulary in. We use the Frayer model (which I LOVE!) and start their vocab in the back of their notebook. All new learning goes in the front. I have done so much better with them this year and have included things like foldables and handy items that will hopefully help my kiddos remember certain topics!

    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚
    Oh btw, my kids LOVE the writing workshop song and it is now our daily routine!

    Twins, Teaching and Tacos.

  4. Pink–It's like red but not quite!!! Is that where you were going?? That's what I heard when I read your first line! I LOVE Aerosmith! πŸ™‚

    I mostly have my kiddos write open ended stuff–My favorite part of the lesson was…Explain how to…. That kind of stuff. I like the input/output idea too. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

    Live Laugh and Love to Learn

  5. YES! Love this post! I use Notebooks (I call them everydayPORTFOLIOS and I created a business and produced my own because I couldn't find what I wanted in the store for K-2!)……..I learned about this concept (slightly different from the input/output) when I was teaching overseas. I now focus on getting notebooking ideas to K-2 teachers as it is extra challenging with those little guys.

    I noticed that countries overseas use the notebooks as a reflection of students' independent practice (and they didn't have as much formal assessment)…..they have notebooks for everything…literacy, math, history/geography, science, etc.

    I wrote more about it on my website: http://www.portfolioadvantagesystem.com

    Yay for notebooks!

  6. Yup! Glad somebody got my Aerosmith reference lol. I actually prefer the open-ended stuff because then I can have them write about where they feel comfortable or where they are confused, specifically. It helps them notice their thinking.

  7. I also teach second grade and have stopped calendar journal altogether except in how it relates to time. We record things like important events, things we want to remember about what we learned in math, and upcoming things we need to remember. So, it ends up being a schedule/journal for daily, weekly, monthly ideas.

  8. I have been using notebooks in science, math, and language arts for the last 11 years. I really like it. You get a real sense of what students know in their own words. I like the idea of foldables and would like to incorporate more of that in my notebooks. Thanks for this great idea!

  9. I actually are already applying handheld computer devices in homework, mathematical basics, and even words fighting technique kinds the last 11 a long time. I spend time this. You will get the on this page proper assumption pertaining to what precisely eyes fully grasp in their own stipulations. I favor pondering during this website and even prefer to integrate even more of your in just this handheld computer devices. Thanks a ton therefore fine system!

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