Math Journals In The Classroom Essay, Research Paper

Relating mathematics to students’ everyday lives will be a goal for me as a teacher. With the research that I have read and through my own struggle with math, I feel that children need to make connections between the real world and mathematical concepts, so that mathematics becomes relevant to them. As it becomes relevant, students become more motivated to learn and more interested in the learning process. I think that students will benefit from using journal writing in math because it will engage them in further exploring and examining mathematical concepts.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for Teaching School Mathematics (1989) stresses that “communication plays an important role in helping children construct links between their informal, intuitive notions and the abstract language and symbolism of mathematics “. The emphasis on math has changed from solving equations to solving real life problems and writing about how the solution is found. A fifth grade teacher wrote an article in Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, about how she implemented math journals in her classroom. She would have her students work in groups to find an answer and then each child would describe the process in his or her math journal. She said, “The writing helps ensure that the student understands the problem solving process and how much math is used in everyday life.” This is my goal as an educator.

My main reason for wanting to use journals with my class is to check for understanding of mathematical reasoning. I will have my students keep a journal and I will give them topics to write about. I will not grade on grammar, spelling or punctuation because I want them to write freely what they are feeling. I will check their journals after they write EVERY TIME. This seemed to be an issue in a lot of the research that I read. Teachers complained that it took so much time to read each child’s entry. I just don’t understand why a teacher would have students write in a journal if they were not going to read the work. I will read the journal because the questions that I pose will let me know what concepts the children are getting and what concepts they are missing and need me to work with them on. This is very important in my opinion. I need to be able to check myself to make sure that I am teaching the material effectively.

I feel that with the hands-on philosophy of teaching mathematics that I have, journaling will allow me to feel comfortable letting the students explore without me showing them concepts. I will be able to give them an activity and then at the end of class, I will pose a question or a problem for them to work that will let me check for understanding. I believe a teacher can learn a lot about his or her students and gain insight into individual students and how they are feeling about a concept through math journaling. Using journals is also a realistic way of listening to each student individually. It will let me teach more individually because I will know the student’s specific problems and difficulties – whether they are of a cognitive or affective nature.

References:

Childhood Education (Winter 1997/1998)

Exploring Math Journals by Beth Howard Fuqua

Teaching PreK-8 (January 1996)

Writing in Math and Science by Maryann Manning

Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School (April 2000)

Daily Journals by Lillie R. Albert

Language Arts (December 1994)

Using Oral and Written Language to Increase Understanding of Math Concepts

by Chelsea M. Fortescue

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