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Math Journals in the Classroom

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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 c...

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